International Development Law Organization

Reforming and modernizing the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system in Somalia

5 Sep 2017

Lack of access to a fair and equitable justice system is one of the most pressing problems confronting modern Somalia on its path towards stability and reconstruction. Rebuilding Somalia’s formal justice system is a highly challenging, complex, and long-term undertaking. In fact, there have not been any effective formal justice institutions in the country for over two decades. In the short-term, to enhance access to justice, it is essential to engage with Somalia’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system, which is already used by a large majority of Somalia’s people to resolve conflict in their communities and dispense justice. Still, engagement with Somalia’s ADR system is not without difficulty. Many aspects of the ADR system violate the Provisional Constitution, particularly when it comes to women’s rights and the rights of marginalized groups. There is also a general absence of accountability for ADR, and the official linkages to the formal justice system in Somalia are relatively weak. It is therefore essential to engage with Somalia’s ADR system in a way that improves human rights protections, increases stability and encourages social cohesion.

IDLO is implementing a project that aims to promote fair and equitable access to justice for all Somalis, including vulnerable populations, through a reformed and modernized ADR system in Somalia. IDLO, under this project, will assist in the implementation of the Somali Federal Government’s National Policy on ADR by supporting the establishment of six new ADR centers in Puntland State and Benadir Region. The centers are a crucial component of the Somali Federal Government’s new integrated justice service delivery strategy, as they will work closely to complement the mobile courts and the formal courts. IDLO will support the replication and expansion of the centers to help restore and strengthen elders’ lost legitimacy, link the customary Xeer system to formal justice institutions, ensure an effective division of labor and efficient referral of cases. The centers also seek to more easily curb practices breaching human rights principles.

The project is funded by the European Commission.