Rule of Law Field Operations

NATO Stands Up Rule of Law Field Support Mission in Afghanistan

By Mark Martins
Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 2:07 PM

Kandahar--Among the ceremonies in Afghanistan on this past July 4th was one having more to do with Afghans and their international partners than with the United States troops stationed here, though we Americans saw strong connections between our allies' celebration and our own Independence Day observances. 

Implementing last month's decision of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to establish a Rule of Law Field Support Mission in Afghanistan—first reported by Jack Goldsmith here—NATO and ISAF on Monday held a simple ceremony in Kandahar to activate the new organization.

The mission of the NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission is to furnish essential field capabilities, liaison, and security to Afghan and international civilian providers of technical assistance deployed in Afghanistan's provinces and districts.  These providers seek to build Afghan criminal justice capacity, increase access to dispute resolution services, and improve Afghan governance. Afghanistan’s Director for Local Governance Programs assesses some 100 of the country’s 400 districts, across 16 of its 34 provinces, to be without either a public prosecutor or a judge. The map bears a striking resemblance to that of Afghanistan’s contested areas.

Lofty aspirations and soaring rhetoric tend to be more common than actual strengthening of law.  This organization is dedicated to practical and achievable support in the field.  Since September of last year, essential field support has been furnished by the U.S.-manned Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan.  The Rule of Law Field Force has assisted U.S. civilian agencies in carrying out justice sector projects overseen by the U.S. Ambassador within the parameters of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and Afghanistan’s National Justice Sector Strategy.  Establishment of the NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission will result now in a multinational support effort. 

The Rule of Law Field Support Mission is organized into Provincial Rule of Law Field Support Teams (currently in five provincial capitals around Afghanistan and building to seven), District Rule of Law Field Support Officers (currently deployed in twenty districts and building to fifty-two), and security elements.  Its motto is an old Pashtun proverb that resonates on the Fourth of July with all Americans who this year, in celebrating our own freedoms, gave thanks both to our government of laws and to our magnificent troops in Afghanistan: yow mumlakat, bey la qanoon tsacka de dzangal haysiat laree ("A country without law is a jungle").

The following are some photographs of the ceremony with a brief explanatory text:

  Kandahar Field Support Team with Afghan partners on the eve of the ceremony to establish the NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission, in Kandahar.  Civil-military Field Support Teams throughout Afghanistan participated in the ceremony by video-teleconference, along with local Afghan partners. (Defense Dept. photo by Lt. Jan Shultis, USN/Released)

 

 From left, Local Governance Programs Director Mohammad Nader Yama, Rule of Law Field Force Commander Brigadier General Mark Martins, NATO Senior Civilian Representative Ambassador Simon Gass, and International Security Assistance Force Commander General David Petraeus before commencement of the ceremony to establish the NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission on July 4th 2011, in Kandahar. (Defense Dept. photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (EXW) Tom Jones, USN/Released)

 

The ceremony to establish the NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission was the first attended by General David Petraeus on the Fourth of July, 2011. (Defense Dept. photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (EXW) Tom Jones, USN/Released)

 

 Soldiers of the Kandahar Rule of Law Field Support Team prepare to join the NATO Mission.  (Defense Dept. photo by Lt. Jan Shultis, USN/Released)

 

 General Petraeus reminds Field Force members and guests of the importance of dispute resolution for achieving lasting security in recently cleared areas of Afghanistan. (Defense Dept. photo by Lt. Jan Shultis, USN/Released)

 

Afghanistan’s Rule of Law Field Support effort will benefit from an unprecedented organization that has been endorsed by 48 nations and that is committed to helping Afghans fill the justice gap. (Defense Dept. photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (EXW) Tom Jones, USN/Released)

 

NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Simon Gass, describes the new organization as an enduring commitment by NATO to justice delivery and stability.  (Defense Dept. photo by Lt. Jan Shultis, USN/Released)

 

 Director Mohammad Nader Yama outlines the progress already made by the Rule of Law Field Force and identifies Afghanistan’s governance challenges in the months ahead.  (Defense Dept. photo by Lt. Jan Shultis, USN/Released)