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Shaping Rule Of Law

Publication Date: 
March 09, 2011
The Stanford Daily
Marwa Farag

Lecturer Erik Jensen traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan with students involved in Stanford's Afghanistan Legal Education Project. The following article by Marwa Farag of the Stanford Daily covers the six-day trip and the group's experience:

Armed only with law textbooks, six Stanford law students and faculty advisor and senior research scholar Erik Jensen landed in Kabul, Afghanistan on Feb. 6 on a mission that would last six days.

The group made up Stanford’s Afghanistan Legal Education Project (ALEP), a student-led law school project funded by the U.S. State Department that creates textbooks on Afghanistan’s legal system specifically for the instruction of Afghani students.


“The whole project is indigenously oriented,” Jensen said. “The textbooks are written in response to needs and demands of Afghan students, and we try to contextualize our work as much as we can to the politics, economics and social order in Afghanistan.”


“All the high officials we met with were extraordinarily supportive of the project,” Jensen said.


The U.S. military has also used the textbooks to familiarize officers with Afghani law. According to Jensen, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal was “very familiar” with the textbooks.


“The development of the rule of law is historical process. It takes time; there are fits and starts,” Jensen said.

“The problem is when you are at Afghanistan’s level of development, it will go through years and years of fits and starts…and as society goes through these episodes, it will need a new cadre of leaders to lead to positive episodes,” he added.


“They [the Afghan students] will see opportunities that we can’t see from Stanford, but they can see on the ground in Afghanistan,” Jensen said, describing the project as one that is about imagining alternatives so as to prevent oppression.


“The passion that we all saw in the students in Afghanistan just increased our passion for the project at Stanford…the heart and soul of the Stanford group is derived from the heart and soul of the Afghan students.”


“Student demand is high; we’ve been successful at retaining some of the best faculty, and we hope that that the [AUAF] law school becomes a center of educational excellence,” Jensen said.

Despite the fact that ALEP is no longer the “sole source” of Afghan law textbooks, Jensen is confident about the books’ prospects.

“I look forward to the marketplace of competition…I think our books will show themselves to be the best.”