justice for marginalised people
Working to improve alternative justice options for marginalised people excluded from the formal justice system.
Land disputes, community and family conflicts, domestic violence: these are all situations which should, in theory, be dealt with by state-run justice systems. For an estimated 60% of the world’s population, that is not an option – either because they cannot afford to access the system, or are not aware of the law, or because the judiciary is dysfunctional.
In practice, the large majority of people in developing countries resort to less formal systems of dispute resolution which relies on customary law, traditional rules and norms which are arbitrated by local chiefs. Often these systems are dysfunctional because the way justice is delivered, and the results do not guarantee that marginalized people get fair outcomes.
The international donor community’s response to this problem has largely been to focus on strengthening the formal rule of law institutions: courts, prosecutors, ministry of justice and police. While this is valuable, Oxfam Novib believes there is also a case for improving the systems of justice that marginalised people actually use.
Oxfam Novib is working with the Tilburg Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Civil Law and Conflict Resolution Systems (TISCO), based at the University of Tilburg, on a ten-year project which will ultimately reach 34 countries. The first phase, beginning in 2011, focuses on five countries, namely Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Mali, and Rwanda.
Oxfam Novib and Tisco intend through this project to increase the number of marginalised people benefiting from a fair outcome of legal interventions to their most common legal problems, generally related to land disputes and family conflicts. The project will target local legal aid providers in the informal and semi-formal systems, where the role of NGOs is extensive and their influence on the outcomes of disputes can be potentially high.
The project will increase NGOs’ capability to promote transparency in and neutrality of local dispute resolution processes (both state as well as non-state administered) by improving their efficiency, sustainability and outreach with a focus on neutrality and transparency, key in generating a more acceptable and thereby more sustainable outcome.
At the same time, the initiative will target “legal empowerment”, improving the quality of legal information available to legal aid providers to inform the marginalized and peer organizations.
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|Bron||Oxfam Novib, 21 march 2011|