Customary and Informal Justice
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. 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.
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. The consultations were backed by a series of publications titled “Navigating Complex Pathways to Justice: Engagement with Customary and Informal Justice Systems”.
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.
IDLO's Publications on Customary and Informal Justice:
As countries seek to make progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16, there is growing recognition that it is essential to work with both state and non-state justice systems to strengthen the rule of law and effectively prevent and resolve conflicts.
The nature of rule of law programming is changing in response to a series of external and internal drivers.
“I heard on the radio that this place helps people at no cost,” said Sarah*, a client at a legal aid center in Jinja, Uganda. Sarah’s estranged husband had refused to provide maintenance for their children.
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Photos: ©IDLO_Lorelei Taylor French
Achieving Justice For All
Le Mali continue à endurer les attaques de groupes armés qui créent dans le pays un climat de conflit et de volatilité.
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. Informal justice systems, offering alternative dispute resolution are often much better placed to respond to the immediate justice needs of many Somalis seeking justice, as they have more legitimacy and are more easily accessible. To enhance access to justice in Somalia, it is therefore essential to engage with the alternative dispute resolution systems.
Searching for the Cutting Edge: Identifying Pathways to Achieving Access to Justice at the National, Regional and International Level
Evaluation of the project "Strengthening Linkages Between Formal Justice System and Traditional Dispute Resolution System to Improve Access to Justice - Phase II"As part of IDLO’s continuous commitment to accountability and results-based management, IDLO is pleased to share this Evaluation Brief for the project, "Strengthening Linkages Between Formal Justice System and Traditional Dispute Resolution System to Improve Access to Justice - Phase II". The evaluation has been conducted by independent evaluation experts, supervised by IDLO’s Evaluation Unit.