Adela Law Initiative

What is the Adela Law Initiative?

The history of access to justice in Afghanistan is long and convoluted. Years of conflict, and internal migration and displacement, combined with culturally unique parallel systems of dispute resolution have frustrated attempts at cohesive legal administration. Improvement of the dysfunctional status quo will require significant support as millions of internationally displaced Afghans return to their homeland, some 1.7 million returning from Pakistan alone. As Afghanistan attempts to leave political and economic insecurity behind, establishing effective rule of law will be a significant piece of the development puzzle.

Objectives & Project Design

Drawn from a common female name in Afghanistan meaning “justice,” the Adela Law Initiative’s objectives are to provide greater understanding of legal concepts to all, including disenfranchised members of Afghan society, particularly women; to aggregate and share data sets that are valuable in the implementation and support of sustainable development and justice initiatives (including ALI); and to create popular demand for a functioning and accountable justice system.

To meet these objectives, ALI creates a process that expands the trust networks necessary for a legal system to function effectively from the local to the national level. ALI acts as a platform that encourages dialogue, debate, and awareness of the law on a national level, as well as engagement and accountability on a local level. Stimulating a culture of fair ruling in a country where the informal legal system is still incredibly active cannot be solely centrally mandated. Shared expectations and transparent knowledge and practice of the law must be collaboratively built through multiple sectors and levels of Afghan society.

The core ALI system is supplemented by a broadcast program, which is educational, entertaining, and helps to promote, incentivize, and shape the entire ALI system. The program will broadcast as regular radio programming and will feature dramatizations of real disputes. During the broadcast, the public is encouraged to respond to the anecdotes they have heard, and to share their own dispute experiences via ALI. Editors will curate local stories that celebrate both informal and formal dispute resolution mechanisms, exemplify a consistent, international standard of justice, and foster public resolve for a pan-Afghan legal system predicated on predictability and equality before the law.

Information collected via the ALI system will be aggregated to help the Afghan government, international bodies, and law and policy makers understand the reality of the dispute resolution processes across Afghanistan’s diverse geography and demographics. This information will become a reference set that can be mapped, published, and used as a constructive tool for policy development.

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