CUSTOMARY JUSTICE AND THE RULE OF LAW IN WAR-TORN SOCIETIES

July 2011
Paperback
9781601270665
$29.95
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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.

This volume features an incredible amount of historical and descriptive detail. Indeed each chapter reads like a mini-treatise on the topic of law in each country or region.

Mark Goodale, author of Surrendering to Utopia: An Anthropology of Human Rights

Deborah Isser

Deborah Isser is lead governance adviser in Africa and global lead for justice in the governance practice at the World Bank. An author of the World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law, Isser joined the World Bank in 2011, where she has served as program manager of the Justice for the Poor program and governance focal point for fragile and conflict-affected states. Previously, Isser worked at USIP directing projects on legal pluralism and on land and conflict. She served as senior policy adviser at the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and special adviser on peacekeeping at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She is the editor of Customary Justice and the Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies (2011), and author of several reports, articles and book chapters on law, justice and development. An adjunct faculty member at Georgetown and George Washington Law Schools, Isser holds degrees from Harvard Law School, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Columbia University.

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