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Engaging with Customary Justice Systems

By: Erica Harper, International Development Law Organization (IDLO)

The following article provides insight into the discourse related to customary justice systems and the role they should play in the programming of national governments, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations operating in developing, post-conflict, post-natural disaster contexts.

This International Development Law Organization-sponsored working paper takes into account policy and donor imperatives, the extent to which engagement with customary justice aligns with dominant models of justice sector reform, and the role that customary justice systems might play in the achievement of other development objectives. A thorough understanding of these factors should guide how the rule of law community approaches programming in plural contexts, including by identifying some of the challenges that need to be overcome and by situating customary law within a framework that takes into account the socio-economic, cultural, and security context in which community-level dispute resolution takes place.