Dean Mohammad Hamed Isar Joins University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law as a Research Scholar

Aug. 16, 2023
A mountain at dusk

Dean Mohammad Hamed Isar has joined the University of Arizona Law James E. Rogers College of Law as a Research Scholar for the 2023-24 academic year.  

Dean Mohammad Hamed Isar

Prior to his arrival, Isar was a member of the faculty of Law and Political Science at Jawzjan University in Sheberghan, Afghanistan. His teaching, practice and research interests focus on criminal law (general criminal law and international criminal law), media law, election law and human rights, and his work has been published in reputable Afghan and U.S. international law journals. He has held several positions, including dean of the law faculty, head of the criminal law clinic, a trainer with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and he has represented parties in criminal law matters. 

Isar received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Balkh University School of Law in 2012 and an LL.M. in Asian and Comparative Law from the University of Washington School of Law in June 2018.  

“Having a resident scholar with the kind of scholarly and practical impact that Dean Isar brings will enrich the Arizona Law community in a number of ways,” says Associate Dean for Research Andrew Coan. “Dean Isar will be a valuable resource for our students and faculty. We all have a lot to learn from both his scholarly expertise on comparative, criminal law, and constitutional law and even more so as a leader in legal education and an advocate for the rule of law and democracy.”  

Isar learned about the opportunity to work at University of Arizona Law shortly after the collapse of the Afghan government and subsequent Taliban takeover in 2021. He, along with his wife and small children, traveled to Pakistan to await permission from the Embassy to travel to the United States, but were faced with an extensive process during a dangerous and ambivalent time.  

“I was in an uncertain situation with my family, but I had hope during that time. Professor Andrew Coan and other faculty members at the University of Arizona helped us so much,” said Isar. “I am thankful to all the people who were involved in helping me and my family get here.” 

In the fall of 2021 several University of Arizona Law faculty members, which included Coan, Christopher Griffin, Toni Massaro and Eunice Lee, joined a group of legal experts and law schools from across the United States to assist Afghan legal scholars in finding employment at universities throughout the United States. In collaboration with Dean Marc Miller, faculty members worked alongside the University of Arizona Law Alumni and Development office to raise funds to establish the position.  

“There was an amazing outpouring of support from the Arizona Law community, including alumni, faculty and friends of the law school, whose donations made it possible to establish this position,” said Coan. “The law firm of Snell & Wilmer and now-Judge Andrew M. Jacobs from the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, played a crucial role in our efforts, and we could not have done it without their assistance.” 

Now, in his new role as Research Scholar, Isar is embarking on a remarkable endeavor which demonstrates his commitment to justice, inclusivity, and promoting the rule of law under challenging circumstances. He is developing constitutional framework for Afghanistan, incorporating an Islamic perspective while ensuring the protection of people's rights. This ambitious undertaking seeks to find common ground with the newly established Taliban regime while upholding fundamental principles of justice and human rights.  

“I do believe that having an imperfect or weak legal system is better than having no legal system at all in Afghanistan, as people in the US say, 'something is better than nothing'" notes Isar. “There are a lot of people in the country who are suffering from this current situation. There is no constitution, no protection for any human rights, women do not have the right to go to school, university or work. So, I am working on this project that would offer some protection of rights and would motivate the ruler to embrace the rule of law.” 

The University of Arizona welcomes Dean Mohammad Hamed Isar. His arrival promises to enrich the institution's academic community and contribute significantly to a deeper understanding of law and politics in Afghanistan and beyond.