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Towards Customary Legal Empowerment: An Introduction

By: Janine Ubink, Benjamin van Rooij, International Development Law Organization (IDLO)

This paper serves international and national legal practitioners, country specialists, and development actors working in the areas of customary justice and/or legal empowerment. The paper concludes that apart from the complex nature of customary justice systems, power imbalances and resultant elite resistance to external change undermines donor-led improvements in customary justice systems. It argues for a concentrated research effort into combinations of state and community-based activities and their effects on change agents that can help overcome power imbalances. Such research should produce recommendations that can lead to Customary Legal Empowerment: processes that 1) enhance the operation of customary justice systems by improving the representation and participation of marginalized community members, and integrating safeguards aimed at protecting the rights and security of marginalized community members and/or 2) improve the ability of marginalized community members to make use of customary justice systems to uphold their rights and obtain outcomes that are fair and equitable.

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Uploaded on: Feb 04, 2014
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2015
Year Published: 2011
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