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Centre de Recherches Internationales, Sciences Po

Bucerius Dissertation Completion Scholarship

Laws at War: Justice, Domination and Violence in Afghanistan (2001-2018)


Contrary to the dominant perception, civil wars are not characterized by lawlessness, but by competition between legal systems. This dissertation relies on the sociological approaches of law and the State to conceptualize the establishment of courts by an armed movement. Based on fieldworks carried out between 2010 and 2016, it analyzes the social and political implications of the formation of law by the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. In a context in which justice is indissociably a legal activity, an instrument of social control and a stake in the war, how can an armed movement make the decisions of its judges recognized as legal and not political acts? In other words, how does a Taliban judge, who is a Taliban as much as a judge, manage to be recognized in his function by the population? The Taliban have set up their courts in a context of radical legal uncertainty caused by decades of civil war and fueled, after 2001, by Western military intervention. In order to ensure the impartiality of its judges, the insurgency have integrated them into an institutional framework and regulate their practices by rudimentary procedures of objectivization. While remaining caught up in the war, this legal system has allowed the armed movement to settle disputes, and thereby legitimize its territorial hold and apply its political agenda.

Adam Baczko is a CNRS Research Fellow at CERI-Sciences Po. He conducts research on the formation of legal institutions by armed movements and international operators in contexts of armed conflict, with a focus on Afghanistan, Syria and Mali. His thesis, conducted at EHESS and entitled Laws at War: Justice, Domination and Violence in Afghanistan (2001-2018), examines the courts set up by the Taliban movement in the context of the Western intervention in Afghanistan since 2001. With Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay, he is the author of Syrie. Anatomie d’une guerre civile (CNRS Éditions, 2016) and its revised translation Civil War in Syria. Mobilization and Competing Social Orders (Cambridge University Press, 2018). In the past, he has successively been Order, Conflict and Violence Fellow at Yale University, Visiting Fellow at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM), “Trajectories of Change” Fellow at the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius and Junior Research Fellow in the ERC programme "Social Dynamics of Civil Wars" at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University.

PUBLICATIONS (selection)

Adam Baczko, Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay: „Syrie: anatomie d’une guerre civile“, CNRS Editions (Biblis), 2016 and 2020

Adam Baczko, Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay: „Laws at War: Justice, Domination and Violence in Afghanistan (2001-2018)“, Cambridge University Press, 2018

Gilles Dorronsoro, Arthur Quesnay and Adam Baczko (2015): Genese et usage du capital social: Le cas de la Syrie en guerre civile, Genesis and Use of Social Capital: the Case of Syria in Civil War, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales

Antonio Giustozzi, Adam Baczko (2014): The Politics of the Taliban’s Shadow Judiciary, 2003-2013, Central Asian Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2014

(2013): Judging in the Midst of Civil War: The Taleban Courts in Afghanistan (2001-2013), Politix, No. 104

Gilles Dorronsoro, Arthur Quesnay and Adam Baczko (2013): Deliberative Mobilisations and Polarizing Crisis: The Case of Peaceful Protest in Syria (2011), Revue francaise de science politique, Vol. 63, No. 5

Gilles Dorronsoro, Arthur Quesnay and Adam Baczko (2013): Between Al Qaeda and the Syrian regime: A Path out of the Current Crisis, New America Foundation

Gilles Dorronsoro, Arthur Quesnay and Adam Baczko (2013): Vers un nouvel Etat syrien ? Les institutions du gouvernorat d’Alep [Towards a New Syrian State? The Civilian Institutions in Aleppo Governorate] in Francois Burgat and Bruno Paoli (dir.), Pas de printemps pour la Syrie ? Acteurs et defis de la crise syrienne (2011- 2013), La Decouverte, Paris

Gilles Dorronsoro, Arthur Quesnay and Adam Baczko (2013): Building a Syrian State in a Time of Civil War, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

(2013): Les conflits fonciers comme analyseurs des guerres civiles: Chefs de guerre, militaires américains et juges Taleban dans la Kunar [Land Conflicts as Analyzers of Civil Wars: Warlords, American military and Taleban Judges in Kunar], Revue d’etude des mondes musulmans et de la Mediterranee, No. 133

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