GoJIL Vol. 9, No. 1 (2018)
The Law Behind Rule of Law Promotion in Fragile States: The Case of Afghanistan
Astrid Wiik & Frauke Lachenmann
Rule of law (RoL) promotion has become a go-to-tool in the complex process of stabilizing and rebuilding (post-)conflict States. The process is driven by a heterogeneous group of national, foreign, and international actors who define and prescribe RoL norms and standards, who programme, finance, implement, and eventually monitor RoL reforms. While the legitimacy and effectiveness of RoL promotion has undergone scrutiny, particularly within the overall context of international development assistance, an aspect that has so far received little attention is the legality of RoL promotion. This concerns both the mandate of the various actors and the execution of RoL activities on the ground. Since 2001, the international community has intensely supported the RoL in Afghanistan rendering it a veritable testing ground for RoL promotion. The article explores the legal framework for actors in RoL promotion in Afghanistan from 2001 up to the present day, with a focus on the German Government, its development cooperation agencies, and private non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The article shows that while detailed rules bind the monitoring and evaluation of RoL activities in line with the existing international frameworks for development assistance, few laws and principles guide the programming and implementation of RoL promotion. The existing standards are generally too abstract to guide specific RoL promotion activities. Further concretization and harmonization is necessary in the interest of the sustainability of RoL promotion in Afghanistan – and elsewhere.
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