Parution : Adam Baczko, The Taliban Courts in Afghanistan. Waging War by Law, Oxford University Press, 2023


The Taliban Courts in Afghanistan
Waging War by Law

Adam Baczko





– Includes interviews with Taliban judges and Afghan court users sourced from the author’s prolonged fieldwork in Afghanistan
– Provides an informed and sensitive reflection on the place of law in civil wars
– Offers unique access to areas under government and Taliban control during the war


How did the Taliban gain the trust of the Afghan population through decades of conflict? How did they put themselves in a position to regulate social relations? And with what consequences for Afghan society? The Taliban Courts in Afghanistan: Waging War by Law explores how the Taliban used the law as a resource in its conflict with militarily and technologically superior Western armies. While the international coalition set up an inadequate and corrupt legal system, the Taliban set up hundreds of courts in the countryside. By insisting on due process, impartiality of judges, and the enforcement of verdicts, this system of justice established itself as one of the few sources of predictability in the daily lives of Afghans.

The armed movement used law to substantiate their claim to embody the state, disseminate their vision of society, and establish local legitimacy. Their courts attempted to balance the political agenda of the movement, the demands of Islamic law, the needs of the population, and the expectations of international legal actors whose implicit recognition they desired. In contemporary civil wars, where dispensing justice is at once a juridical activity, a political weapon, and a stake in the war, this book thus accounts for why the West lost the war and how the Taliban took over the country.

Based on the author’s extensive fieldwork in various provinces in Afghanistan and unique access to Taliban judges and court users, this socio-legal investigation offers new perspectives on a country that was at war for over four decades. Baczko proposes an innovative reflection on the place of law and courts in civil wars as well as a stark reminder of the dangers of foreign intervention. Timely and thought-provoking, this book is appeals to a multi-disciplinary audience including legal scholars, political scientists, sociologists, diplomats, policy-makers, and anyone interested in the Afghan conflict.

Adam Baczko, CNRS Research Associate Professor, Center for International Studies (CERI), Sciences Po, Center for International Studies (CERI), Sciences Po

Adam Baczko is CNRS Research Associate Professor at the Centre for International Studies of Sciences Po. He holds a PhD from the EHESS and conducts field-based research on the formation of legal institutions by armed movements and international actors in contexts of armed conflict, with a particular focus on Afghanistan, Syria and Mali. With Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay, he is the co-author of Civil War in Syria: Mobilisation and Competing Social Orders (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

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Chargé de diffusion scientifique (2023, 17 novembre). Parution : Adam Baczko, The Taliban Courts in Afghanistan. Waging War by Law, Oxford University Press, 2023. IISMM. Consulté le 12 avril 2024, à l’adresse

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