‘Insurgencies win by out-governing the status quo power and the primary thrust of their strategy is nearly always the provision of alternative justice to populations hungry for better law. Frank Ledwidge’s brilliant book plugs the gap in the literature commendably. It is indispensable reading.’ — David Betz, Professor of War in the Modern World, Department of War Studies, King’s College London
This indispensable book explains how courts are now part of the broader battlefield, deployed by both insurgents and state forces in a world convulsed by unconventional warfare.
In most societies, courts are where the rubber of government meets the road of the people. If a state cannot settle disputes and enforce its decisions, to all intents and purposes it is no longer in charge. This is why successful rebels put courts and justice at the top of their agendas. Rebel Law explores this key weapon in the arsenal of insurgent groups, from the IRA’s ‘Republican Tribunals’ of the 1920s to Islamic State’s ‘Caliphate of Law’, via the ALN in Algeria of the ‘50s and 60s and the Afghan Taliban of recent years.
Frank Ledwidge delineates the battle in such ungoverned spaces between counterinsurgents seeking to retain the initiative and the insurgent courts undermining them. Contrasting colonial judicial strategy with the chaos of stabilisation operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, he offers compelling lessons for today’s conflicts.
‘A ground-breaking picture of the role of law in (particularly, irregular) warfare: so-called lawfare. This highly readable study opens up a new vista in counterinsurgency and underlines the centrality therein of properly-delivered, culturally-specific justice. A fascinating tour de force
that demands to be read by politicians and generals alike.’
— Mike Martin, author of An Intimate War:
An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict