On Sept. 23 and 24, 2010, Penn Law and the National Constitution Center hosted a major international conference assessing legal reform in Afghanistan and Iraq. At a time when many analysts are focused on immediate issues facing the political and legal systems in both countries, experts were asked to think critically about reforms implemented to date and contemplate changes or emphases that should be the focus of efforts over the coming decade.
Panelists reflected on critical issues including the nature and future of Iraq’s federalist structure and whether the Iraqi constitution will be able to withstand demands for increased regional autonomy; problems confronting Afghanistan’s legal development including tensions between gains in protecting women’s rights and the need to rely on traditional mechanisms of justice; problems of administration of law in an increasingly bureaucratic and decentralized Iraq; and perceptions of formal and informal justice in Afghanistan. Conference participants also addressed the US military’s learning curve relating to rule of law and development, as well as questions about the lessons learned from the constitution-drafting processes in Iraq and Afghanistan, law and order approaches to legal reform, questions of culture and acculturation and the rule of law, and what will happen to legal reform efforts as the foreign presence in both countries transitions from the military to civilian institutions.
Penn Law will continue to explore the issues raised at the conference through ongoing lectures and symposia as well as in a symposium volume that will be published jointly by the Law School’s Journal of International Law and Journal of Law and Social Change.
The conference was generously supported by the ACE Rule of Law Fund, an in-house legal charitable fund that supports projects to enhance the rule of law around the world.
More information is available on the Conference website.
Click any photo at left to view a slideshow of the conference.