The book provides an updated account of justice reform in Afghanistan, which started in the wake of the US-led military intervention of 2001. In particular, it focuses on the role of international actors and their interaction with local stakeholders, highlighting some provisional results, together with problems and dilemmas encountered in the reform activities. Since the mid-1990s, justice system reform has become increasingly important in state-building operations, particularly with regard to the international administrations of Bosnia, Kosovo, East Slavonia and East Timor. Statebuilding and Justice Reform examines in depth the reform of justice in Afghanistan, evaluating whether the success of reform may be linked to any specific feature or approach. In doing so, it stresses the need for development programmes in the field of justice to be implemented through a multilateral approach, involving domestic authorities and other relevant stakeholders. Success is therefore linked to limiting the political interests of donors; establishing functioning pooled financing mechanisms; restricting the use of bilateral projects; improving the efficacy of technical and financial aid; and concentrating the attention on the ‘demand for justice’ at local level rather than on the traditional supply of financial and technical assistance.
The article analyses peacebuilding theories and methods, as applied to justice system reform in post-conflict scenarios. In this respect, the international authorities involved in the reconstruction process may traditionally choose between either a ‘dirigiste’ or a consent-based approach, representing the essential terms of reference of past interventions. However, features common to most reconstruction missions, and relatively poor results, confirm the need for a change in the overall strategy. This requires international donors to focus more on the demand for justice at local levels than on the traditional supply of financial and technical aid for reforms. The article stresses the need for effectively promoting the local ownership of the reform process, without this expression being merely used by international actors as a political umbrella under which to protect themselves from potential failures.