The Afghanistan Independent Bar Association in Exile is officially welcomed to the IBA Council

Monday 17 June 2024

The Afghanistan Independent Bar Association in Exile (AIBAIE) has been formally granted membership status of the International Bar Association (IBA). During the recently held IBA mid-year Council Meeting, leaders of the world’s national bar associations and law societies voted unanimously to welcome back to the IBA the AIBA in its current format as an entity in exile. The vote took place on 25 May 2024 in Bucharest, Romania.

In a joint statement, the President of the AIBAIE, Ruhullah Qarizada, and member of the AIBAIE’s leadership council, Rafi Nadiri, stated: ‘Each and every Afghan lawyer appreciates this moment. The extension of our membership of the International Bar Association is a clear message for us and all our members that we are not alone in our critical situation: we know a large group of our international colleagues are with us and support us. We believe that with the official renewal of our membership, we will be able to work more effectively for our members both inside and outside Afghanistan via strong and regular coordination with the IBA.’

Dr Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director, who led the formation of the original AIBA and first proposed the creation of a bar in exile, said: ‘This vote sends a clear signal that the IBA has not forgotten the Afghan legal community, nor has the Taliban’s takeover succeeded in destroying the work and achievements of the independent bar that the IBA, in consultation and partnership with Afghanistan’s lawyers, helped to establish. We will continue to support the AIBAIE’s vital work as the representative organisation and global home for those lawyers who are suffering persecution in their homeland and facing the immense challenges of living as refugees around the world.’

The newly established AIBAIE came into existence following the Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan in 2021 after a two decades-long war with the United States and its allies. The resurgence of the Taliban caused the leadership of the original Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA), Afghan judges, prosecutors and lawyers to flee Afghanistan as their work towards establishing and upholding the rule of law, human rights and democracy were diametrically opposed to the way the Taliban intended to rule the country.

Since 2021 there have been well-documented abuses of opponents and judges being killed; journalists and Afghans protesting for their rights being beaten and detained; and girls and women being oppressed and marginalised to the extent that a new term has been coined: ‘gender apartheid’ .

Afghanistan’s judicial system now rests entirely in the hands of Taliban government officials. The rule of law has been disregarded, along with human rights. Reports from the AIBAIE include arbitrary arrests of Afghan individuals under false pretexts, followed by torture and sentencing without legal defence or representation as part of an unfair judicial process. As a result, the AIBAIE has sought the assistance of the IBA and the United Nations to:

  • urgently intervene to ensure the safety of lawyers in Afghanistan, who fear for their lives and livelihoods, and who face severe restrictions, torture and ill-treatment by the Taliban;
  • place pressure on the Taliban to respect the will of the Afghan people and to halt the adoption of regressive and un-Islamic policies;
  • insist on a prerequisite that for any international recognition of the Taliban regime there must be an agreement on human rights, the right to legal representation and an independent defence lawyer in legal proceedings; and
  • encourage all international institutions to continue to highlight human rights violations and judicial abuses taking place in Afghanistan in their reports and to hold those responsible accountable.

The AIBAIE’s membership of the IBA follows that of its predecessor, the AIBA, which was established with the support of the IBA and was a member of the IBA’s Council for 13 years until it was forced into exile as part of the Taliban’s takeover in 2021.

George Artley, Legal Director at the IBA, and staff lead on the bar in exile project, added: ‘The IBA Council vote was a moment of immense personal and professional pride for all those involved in this project. Both the IBA and the AIBAIE are fully committed to promoting and protecting the vital role that lawyers play in the maintenance of the rule of law, promotion of human rights, and the struggle against dictatorship and authoritarian rule that threatens democracy across the globe. Having the voice of our Afghan members, who have suffered so much in the name of those values, formally heard at our council meetings, will only serve to fortify our organisation’s commitment to their protection.’


Contact : IBApressoffice@int-bar.org

Notes to the Editor

  1. Related material:

  2. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, with the aim of protecting and promoting the rule of law globally, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for fair practice and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

    In the ensuing 70 years since its creation, the organisation has evolved from an association comprised exclusively of bar associations and law societies to one that incorporates individual international lawyers and entire law firms. The present membership is comprised of more than 80,000 individual international lawyers from most of the world’s leading law firms and some 190 bar associations and law societies spanning more than 170 countries.

    The IBA has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community, and, through its global membership, it influences the development of international law reform and helps to shape the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington, DC, United States, while the IBA’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous entity working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

  3. Find the IBA and IBAHRI on social media here:



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