Knowledge transfer: Scholarship on Afghan family law supports legal practitioners

February 13, 2023

Where required under the rules of private international law, German courts and government agencies must apply foreign family law. The cases today more and more frequently call for application of the laws of Afghanistan, and determining the content of Afghan law can be a major challenge. To help meet it, the research group on family and succession law in Muslim jurisdictions at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law has begun expanding its online information portal on family law in the Middle East. Support for the project comes from the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The concept behind making this information freely accessible via the Internet is to provide legal practitioners in Germany and Europe with reliable information on Afghan family law in effect today and its sources. Among other things, the website will serve as a digital archive of official documents pertaining to the laws of personal status, both in their original versions as well as in German translation. Also available are scholarly commentaries and an introductory glossary on the fundamentals of Afghan family law. All of the information will be kept current and up-to-date.

“Our basic research on Afghan law serves a scholarly purpose, but it also supports the work of courts and government agencies”, says Nadjma Yassari, the leader of the research group. “The project is structured on a model that has proven effective in the past.” Yassari, together with the interdisciplinary team she leads, launched an online information portal like this once before, in 2016, which collected and edited German-language information on the laws of Iraq and Syria. That project too was supported by the Federal Ministry of Justice. The freely accessible website,, has been live since 2017 and thus far has been visited more than 200 000 times. It contains German translations of the pertinent provisions of Iraqi and Syrian law along with commentaries on the relevant areas of law (private international law, family and succession law, procedural rules, and nationality), copies of the official documents that come up in marriage proceedings, and German case law on Iraqi and Syrian family law.

Graphic: © shutterstock/CreativeShift

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