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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:
 
A series of publications titled “Navigating Complex Pathways to Justice: Engagement with Customary and Informal Justice Systems” seeks to advance policy dialogue and distil lessons from programming and research, to help realize Sustainable Development Goal 16. This Policy and Issue Brief presents...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This Practitioner Brief offers a set of concrete tools, recommendations and good practices to support engagement with customary and informal justice systems...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Women and Customary and Informal Justice Systems focuses on the relationship between women and customary and informal justice (CIJ) systems. It brings together current research, expert perspectives and programmatic experience, addressing: »»the evolution of legal and policy debates on women and CIJ; »»challenges women encounter in accessing justice through CIJ systems; »»gender-focused engagement entry points, modalities, and good practices for CIJ systems; and »»policy recommendations to...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IDLO launches global consultations on customary and informal justice systems

The Hague, February 4, 2019 – “Access to justice will remain elusive for many people unless there is meaningful engagement with customary and informal justice systems,” remarked Dr. Ilaria Bottigliero, IDLO’s Director for Policy, Research and Learning as she launched the first of a series of Consultations on the subject with practitioners and policy thinkers.

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.

Strategic Investment in Rule of Law Programming

Growing insecurity and instability, recurring and protracted conflict and violence, increasing inequality, exclusion and discrimination, deterioration of international human rights and humanitarian norms, all signal the importance of strengthening the rule of law in today’s rapidly changing world. Notably, Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to promote peace, justice and strong institutions.

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Key Initiatives

  • Like other countries on the African continent, the Ugandan justice sector faces many challenges. Citizens demonstrate a widespread distrust towards formal justice institutions, which are perceived as corrupt, removed from the communities, expensive and slow to resolve disputes. This lack of confidence in the formal system leads people to resort to other means to seek recourse, and may also increase the likelihood of violence and further corruption.
  • The private sector is of central importance for The Gambia, a Least Developed Country where the availability of private capital from foreign and domestic investors is critical to promote sustainable economic growth, increase employment and ensure better living conditions.
  • The failure of criminal justice systems in the Sahel to deliver better quality justice can be linked to a series of interconnected factors, such as: the overwhelming lack of human, material and financial capacity; corruption and weak internal control mechanisms; and limitations on civil society to ensure respect for human rights.
  • 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.
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