© 2015

The Legitimization Strategy of the Taliban’s Code of Conduct

Through the One-Way Mirror

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Yoshinobu Nagamine
    Pages 1-10
  3. Yoshinobu Nagamine
    Pages 11-26
  4. Yoshinobu Nagamine
    Pages 27-43
  5. Yoshinobu Nagamine
    Pages 45-52
  6. Yoshinobu Nagamine
    Pages 53-72
  7. Yoshinobu Nagamine
    Pages 73-90
  8. Yoshinobu Nagamine
    Pages 103-123
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 125-293

About this book


What norms and principles guide the Afghan Taliban in their conduct of hostilities? The author focuses on the Layeha, a Code of Conduct issued by the highest Taliban authority. Interviews with Taliban members were conducted to understand their perception of the Layeha, which is modeled as a 'one-way mirror.'


interview Islam law perception Questionnaire strategy Taliban

About the authors

Yoshinobu Nagamine is an independent researcher and currently works for a major humanitarian organization in Geneva. Previously he has worked in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, and Pakistan in humanitarian assistance and reconstruction. He holds a PhD in Human Security from the University of Tokyo, Japan, and an MA in International Relations from the Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland. In 2010 he was selected Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

Bibliographic information


"I rarely learned so much by reading a book. This book, based upon a thorough understanding of international humanitarian law (IHL), Islamic law, Afghan culture, and history and interviews in the field, is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Afghan Taliban and how IHL matters even for such an armed group heavily influenced by tribal traditions and its own understanding of Islamic law. The author of this book shows convincingly how the Layeha code of conduct issued by the Taliban for its fighters tries but beyond rhetoric and common principles also in many respects fails to accommodate external expectations of legitimacy of the international community based upon IHL to the legitimacy requirements by their own internal constituency based upon the old rhetoric of Jihad against invading non-believers. Whether the result of a genuine dilemma or mere strategy, this double-pronged approach conceptualized as a "one-way mirror" model, the policy implications of which are shown according to realist, institutionalist, and constructivist approaches, must be taken into account when trying to understand and dealing with the Taliban and in many respects with other armed groups. It offers a perspective of a little more humanity in a situation which is as all wars are profoundly inhumane.' - Marco Sassòli, University of Geneva, Switzerland

'This research makes an original contribution to the field. Various authors have discussed many aspects of the Layeha, but no one has discussed it in such detail and many gaps were left open. The author filled in all the gaps in the Layeha by using many other documents issued by the Taliban leadership. In addition, the interviews with present and former Taliban members make this work excellent.' Muhammad Munir, International Islamic University, Pakistan

"We need to take the Taliban seriously. Neither dismissing what they are saying nor taking everything naively are viable options. Yoshinobu Nagamine avoids both and helps us understand the Taliban better." Olivier Bangerter, author of Internal Control: Codes of Conduct within Insurgents Armed Groups

"This work shows that careful analysis and balanced curiosity without judgmental preconception can lead to an understanding of one of the most complex and fascinating contexts in the world. A must read for humanitarian actors, but not exclusively." Eric Ouannes, former Executive Director, MSF Japan