The Afghan Judicial Reform Commission and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) yesterday signed a two-year project on Rebuilding the Justice System of Afghanistan. According to a spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), this is the first major step towards judicial reform since the creation of the Commission.Spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said in Kabul that the first part of the project will be reconstructing and equipping the courthouses across the country; training judges and other law offices; increasing the capacity of the administration of justice system, and organizing seminars and training for the staff of the justice system. “Particular attention will be given to ensure gender equity and a firmer role for women through the judicial system,” Mr. de Almeida e Silva said.Strengthening the teaching and research capacity of Kabul University’s Faculty of Law and Sharia will also be part of the initial stage of judicial reform. A legal research institute will be established within the University and the library will be upgraded.The spokesman said that the Judicial Reform Commission would be directly responsible for the full implementation of all elements of the programme. Representatives of the Commission, UNAMA and UNDP, as well as the Italian Embassy – charged with guiding judicial reform efforts last year by the Afghan Administration – will make up the project’s steering committee, and have a primary role in raising and managing the funds for the reform. The announcement of the joint project follows the international conference on Reform of the Afghan Justice System held in Rome last December. Conference participants pledged some $30 million and declared their commitment to help the Afghan Administration and the Commission restore the country’s judicial system and the rule of law.