Customary Justice in War-Torn Societies

TitleCustomary Justice in War-Torn Societies
Publication TypeBook
Subtitle / Series TitleNew USIP publication
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsIsser, D
Number of Pages400
PublisherUnited States Institute of Peace
ISBN978-1-60127-066-5
Abstract

The major peacekeeping and stability operations of the last ten years have mostly taken place in countries that have pervasive customary justice systems, which pose significant challenges - and opportunities - for efforts to reestablish the rule of law. These systems are the primary, if not sole, means of dispute resolution for the majority of the population, but post-conflict practitioners and policymakers often focus primarily on constructing formal justice institutions in the Western image, as opposed to engaging existing traditional mechanisms. This book offers insight into how the rule of law community might make the leap beyond rhetorical recognition of customary justice toward a practical approach that incorporates the realities of its role in justice strategies. Customary Justice and the Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies presents seven in-depth case studies that take a broad interdisciplinary approach to the study of the justice system. Moving beyond the narrow lens of legal analysis, the cases - Mozambique, Guatemala, East Timor, Afghanistan, Liberia, Iraq, Sudan - examine the larger historical, political, and social factors that shape the character and role of customary justice systems and their place in the overall justice sector. Written by resident experts, the case studies provide advice to rule of law practitioners on how to engage with customary law and suggest concrete ways policymakers can bridge the divide between formal and customary systems in both the short and long terms. Instead of focusing exclusively on ideal legal forms of regulation and integration, this study suggests a holistic and flexible palette of reform options that offers realistic improvements in light of social realities and capacity limitations. The volume highlights how customary justice systems contribute to, or detract from, stability in the immediate post-conflict period and offers an analytical framework for assessing customary justice systems that can be applied in any country. Contents- Introduction- Deborah H. Isser- Dilemmas of Articulation: Customary Legal Practice and Transitional Justice During Mozambique's First Post-Conflict Decade- Stephen C. Lubkemann and Jennifer Garvey, with post-script by Helene Maria Kyed- Mayan Law in Post-Conflict Guatemala- Jan Hessbruegge and Carlos Fredy Ochoa Garcia- Local-Level Justice Under Transitional Administration: Lessons from East Timor- Tanja Chopra, Christian Ranheim, and Rod Nixon- The Clash of Two Goods: State and Non-State Dispute Resolution in Afghanistan- Thomas Barfield, Neamat Nojumi, and J Alexander Thier- Justice in a Vacuum: The Unintended Consequences of the Constraint of Customary Justice in Post-Conflict Liberia- Stephen C. Lubkemann, Deborah H. Isser, and Philip A. Z. Banks III- Tribal Customary Law and Legal Pluralism in Al-Anbar, Iraq- Patricio Asfura-Heim- Customary Law in the Cross-Fire of Sudan's War of Identities- Francis M. Deng- The Role of Customary Justice Systems in Post-Conflict Societies: Conclusions and Practical Guidance- Deborah H. Isser More Information

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