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Research and Policy Note: Customary Justice Sector Reform

Customary justice systems are a distinguishing feature in the landscape of the contemporary Third World. In many developing countries, customary justice systems remain the most important system for dispute settlement as well as for regulating important aspects of life, including access to land, water and other natural resources, and family matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance.

To enable policymakers, academics, and donor institutions to better understand the nature of customary justice systems and to critically assess their functioning and the opportunities and modalities of programs to enhance their functioning, this 2011 Research & Policy Note discusses the following issues:

  • What are customary justice systems, why are they so important, and what are their most important positive and negative characteristics?
  • What aspects of the complex nature of customary justice system need to be understood if legal reforms targeting customary justice systems are to be effective?
  • What approaches can be used to improve the functioning and effectiveness of customary justice systems?
  • What role does power play in these reforms? And can we come to a particular kind of legal empowerment for improving the functioning and effectiveness of customary justice systems?


Uploaded on: Mar 10, 2014
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2015
Year Published: 2011

Resource Tags

Resource Type: Practitioner Resources Issues: Criminal Justice, Traditional / Customary Justice Tool Type: Policy Papers / Briefs Method: Research, Strengthening Customary Justice Systems Languages: English Regions: > Global