To achieve equal access to justice for all, it is important to understand the variety of justice actors and mechanisms that exist and are used by individuals, including in dispute resolution outside formal courts. In this context, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy convened on 17 October an Expert Roundtable to gain deeper reflection on access to justice through customary and informal systems. Building on the global consultation launched and promoted by IDLO, the discussion focused on how to address tensions with human rights imperatives, and on how to identify and promote culturally appropriate, sustainable and effective paths for policy development.
Several key organisations participated in the roundtable, including representatives from the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, OHCHR (Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Office of the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples), Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) as well as experts from the IDLO and researchers from the Graduate Institute.
IDLO and the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy then co-hosted a public panel discussion entitled “Customary and Informal Justice Systems: Navigating Complex Pathways to Justice for all”. The event was moderated by Ms. Irene Khan, Director-General, International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and involved four panellists: Professor Patricia Mbote, Professor of Law at the University of Nairobi and Advocate at the High Court of Kenya, Mr. Rochus Pronk, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands in Geneva, Professor Shalini Randeria, Director of the Graduate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, and Ms. Mona Rishmawi, Chief, Rule of Law, Equality and Non-discrimination Branch Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development at the OHCHR.
Arguing that it is essential to understand the context in which informal and customary systems operate, panellists provided insights on the relationship between formal and customary and informal justice systems. They also reflected on the policy and practical challenges that are posed in relation to gender equality and human rights.
Watch the panel discussion here: