Rule of Law Project

In order to support policymakers and practitioners engaged in security governance and human security efforts in conflict and postconflict nations, INSCT is examining the status of Rule of Law initiatives and asking how and why certain methods, approaches, and means succeed or fail; what outcomes (positive, negative, or neutral) have been achieved; and whether best practices and policy prescriptions can be identified and communicated.

As part of this project, INSCT is developing an After-Action Report on the US government’s Rule of Law programs in Iraq and Afghanistan during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (OIF and OEF). Its purpose is to recount what was suppose to happen, what actually happened, and what observations, insights, and lessons there are for future Rule of Law initiatives. The project also will provide a repository of after-action reviews from armed forces, other government entities, and NGOs. It will serve as a hub for research and collaboration on a methodology for future Rule of Law initiatives, which have become an indispensable part of governments’ foreign policy and development strategies.


The assertion that the use of force is only a temporary solution in matters of governance is now commonplace after the post-Sept. 11, 2001 wars. Broadly speaking, civilized governance is characterized and best imposed not through force, but through institutional mechanisms, the most important of which is adherence to the Rule of Law. Yet, Rule of Law implementation operations in postconflict nations have experienced both successes and set-backs in recent years.


1. Review and Analyze Rule of Law Efforts in Postconflict Environments

Read More
2.  Synthesize the Work of Law and Security Scholars That of Practitioners

Read More
3. Examine Results from US Military and Legal Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan

Read More
4.  Analyze Multifaceted Legal Challenges in Conflict and Post-Conflict Environments

Read More

Research Questions

  • What is the relationship between insecurity and rule of law?
  • Why is there a poor prognosis for rule of law in insecure environments and how does this depend upon definitions of rule of law? (i.e., security in Taliban controlled areas).
  •  What rule of law capacity-building program initiatives have the US armed forces community engaged in and undertaken in Afghanistan and Iraq within the last decade? How have these fared and are there current means to evaluate their success, results, or implications?
  • Have US armed forces strategies for rule of law initiatives changed in light of the challenges of Iraq and Afghanistan?
  • What are the most common barriers or obstacles in attempts to strengthen rule of law in Afghanistan and Iraq, including local cultural and legal norms, human capital, training, and education deficits, poverty and developmental issues, etc.?
  • Has the military/Army/JAG corps has gone through a ‘learning curve’ on these issues? Are there useful legal, reform, transition programs and or mechanisms that have helped?
  • Are local cultural contexts and legal traditions factored into rule of law concepts, initiatives, and programs?
  • How have practitioners and scholars dealt with legal compatibility and convergence issues—between domestic, Islamic, and international law, between state and tribal legal norms and systems?
  •  What role does the broader rubric of Islamic law and its relationship to international law play in these issues?
  • Given the recognition of the importance of local cultural knowledge, how do rule of law practitioners negotiate the well-known difficulty of grafting rule of law standards on another nation’s own often underdeveloped, fragmented, or localized rules and laws?
Contact Contact
Corri Zoli, Director of Research | 315.443.4523