Achieving Justice For All
Recurring estimates show that globally, more than 80% of legal disputes are resolved outside of the formal courts through customary and informal justice (CIJ) systems. The vast majority of these justice seekers are women, poor people, minority groups and marginalized communities. While widespread and critically important to many individuals and communities, CIJ systems are often left out of discussions held at the international level.
In 2019, IDLO launched global consultations on CIJ with the aim of advancing policy dialogue and distilling lessons from programming and research to make justice accessible for all. As part of the global consultations, a series of events, workshops and roundtable discussions were organized with international, justice sector and civil society partners, as well as diplomatic missions and academic institutions. In addition, an online survey sought to collect views from a diverse set of stakeholders around the world.
CIJ systems carry many benefits, including affordability, flexibility, speed and cultural relevancy. They tend to be more accessible compared to the formal justice sector – especially to vulnerable and marginalized populations – and enjoy high levels of trust within communities. At the same time, it is well recognized that CIJ systems are deeply rooted in cultural, traditional or religious norms that are not always in line with international standards of human rights and some national constitutions.
IDLO’s dialogue with stakeholders throughout 2019 confirmed that enhancing access to equitable and quality justice for all will only become viable if we recognize that the state is not the sole justice provider. It is crucial to engage with and strengthen the variety of justice actors and mechanisms used by individuals, particularly for those who are marginalized, to resolve their disputes through context-specific, inclusive and innovative ways. As the international community races to realize the 2030 Agenda, continuing the conversation around CIJ systems – their value added, tensions and complexities – will be critical to ensuring no one is left behind.
4 February: The Hague
Customary and Informal Justice Systems: Navigating Complex Pathways Towards Justice for All
To mark the launch of its global consultations and the publication of two Briefs on customary and informal justice, IDLO hosted an event and interactive dialogue on the engagement between formal and customary and informal justice systems, during which justice leaders from Kenya and Kyrgyzstan shared national experiences and insights.
15 March: New York
Women and Customary and Informal Justice Systems
IDLO with the support of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya), Landesa, the Uganda Women's Network (UWONET) and Rights + Resources (RRI) organized a side event at the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women to provide space for an open consultation on the relationship between women and customary and informal justice systems, on legal pluralism and on the intersection of formal and informal systems.
28 May: Rome
Leaving No One Behind: Engaging with Customary and Informal Justice Systems to Provide Justice for All
IDLO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) convened a side event at the Global Conference on SDG 16 to explore ways of addressing the needs of justice seekers while ensuring respect for human rights within the context of customary and informal justice systems.
16 September - 27 October: Global
Online consultation on customary and informal justice systems
IDLO ran a public survey aimed at bringing together a wide range of perspectives in a global conversation about customary and informal justice to inform the work of decision makers, policymakers and influencers at national and international levels.
17 September: Geneva
Indigenous Justice and Human Rights
IDLO participated in a panel discussion organized by the International Commission of Jurists and the UN Special Rapporteur to discuss the essential role of indigenous justice systems in relation to human rights.
9 October: The Hague
Engaging with Informal Systems to Enhance Justice for Women
IDLO convened a two-day roundtable with practitioners, policymakers and representatives of women’s groups from around the world to discuss how to engage with customary and informal systems to enhance justice for women and girls. IDLO with the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law also co-organized a HagueTalks public dialogue on how to make justice a reality for women and girls who use customary and informal justice systems.
10 October: New York
Customary and Informal Justice Providers Accelerating Achievement of SDG 16
IDLO, Cordaid, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Pathfinders organized a public dialogue to better understand how efforts to achieve SDG16+ can engage with the reality of customary and informal justice systems.
17 October: Geneva
Customary and Informal Justice Systems: Navigating Complex Pathways to Justice for All
IDLO and the Graduate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy convened a public event and expert roundtable to gain deeper reflection on access to justice through customary and informal systems, provide greater insight into tensions with human rights imperatives, and facilitate the identification of culturally appropriate, sustainable and effective paths for policy, programming and further research.
The consultations were backed by a series of publications, Navigating Complex Pathways to Justice, that draw heavily on IDLO’s research and programs as well as the experience of others. The first two publications – a Policy and Issue Brief providing policy recommendations, and a Practitioner Brief giving practical entry points for development practitioners – highlight the importance of understanding the context in which such systems operate, with the aim of improving justice outcomes and delivery for end users. The third focuses on women and CIJ.
Thank you for participating in our online survey! The findings will be made available shortly.
The chairwoman of the Kyrgyz Aksakal courts system, Zamira Mamakeeva, spoke at an IDLO event in The Hague, and gave an inspirational account of how customary justice in Kyrgyzstan complements the state courts.
African high-level jurists, experts and legal scholars met in Nairobi for the East Africa Regional Forum on Alternative Dispute Resolution & Customary and Informal Justice, organized by IDLO, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Judiciary of Kenya.