U.S. State Department officials, working with local judges in Afghanistan early this year, tried to find the country's laws in order to use them in the effort to return the rule of law to that beleaguered nation. When they could not find these legal materials in Afghanistan, the State Department turned to the Law Library of Congress and other U.S. law libraries for assistance.
The Law Library of Congress has located a unique two-volume English translation of Afghanistan's laws within its collection of more than 2.5 million items.
"The effort to reconstruct Afghanistan's laws is an example of the Law Library's dedication to supporting the rule of law among nations around the world, and our ability to provide the necessary support in a timely fashion," said Law Librarian of Congress Rubens Medina.
Under Taliban rule, most of Afghanistan's codes and statutory and regulatory sources were destroyed. The Law Library of Congress, which contains the largest collection of Afghanistan's laws in the world, was asked by the International Resources Group (a non-governmental organization) and the American Bar Association's Asia Law Initiative to locate a missing portion of this material that was unavailable elsewhere. This effort was part of a larger State Department initiative to reassemble the laws that were in effect before Taliban rule and Soviet occupation, including the 1964 constitution, and distribute approximately 1,000 copies to key institutions in Afghanistan.
The material in the Law Library of Congress has been digitized as part of the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), a cooperative, not-for-profit federation of government agencies or their designees that contribute national legal information to a database containing statutes, regulations and related legal materials in the vernacular. The database is accessible to member nations.
The Law Library's collection of Afghanistan's laws, including the two-volume English translation, is accessible in the Law Library Reading Room. Reading Room hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday; the telephone number is (202) 707-5079.