Lawyer, Scholar, and Member of the WISE Shura Council
Hijri 1385-Present (AH); Common Era 1965–Present (CE)
Laila al-Zwaini was born in The Netherlands to a Dutch mother and Iraqi father. She earned her law degree (LLM) from Leiden University and her Master’s degree (MA) in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Between 1997 and 2000, she resided extensively in Yemen, conducting field research for her Ph.D. thesis on the functioning of law, shari`a, and tribal custom in courts and among tribes. From 2000 to 2005, she was affiliated with the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) in Leiden, where she co-initiated the action-research project, “Rights at Home.” Ms. Al-Zwaini has worked as an independent scholar and advisor to international organisations and government institutions on judicial reform, human rights, shari`a, tribal custom and arbitration, constitutional process, access to justice, and rule of law programs. In 2007, she joined the Rule of Law Unit of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, of which she was appointed Acting Head from February 2008 to March 2009. She has co-authored two books: A Bibliography of Islamic Law, 1980-1993 (1994) and Legal Pluralism in the Arab World (1999).