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Farewell Symposium Jan Michiel Otto

The Role of Law in Development: steady beacon or mere sham?

Friday 29 June 2018
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden
A 051 (Grotius Hall)

Farewell Symposium Jan Michiel Otto

This symposium marks the retirement of Jan Michiel Otto, professor of law and governance in developing countries, from active work at the Van Vollenhoven Institute. It will offer a varied impression of ongoing research on the role of law and governance in North Africa/Middle East, Indonesia and Sub-Sahara Africa. Four junior and six senior colleagues, from the Netherlands, Indonesia and Libya will present aspects of their research. Working at the interface where national law is supposed to meet local people, they will share observations from Morocco, Libya, Indonesia, Senegal, South Sudan/Uganda, and DRC Congo. Are there clear signs that a rule of law is on the rise? Is there an increase or decrease of ‘real legal certainty’? Are there legal institutions in place in support of political, economic or social development? Or is law only to be found in the books, and do those who are in need of justice merely depend on the whims of local powerholders, officials, chiefs, imams, or militiamen? In other words, is the role of law in development one of a steady beacon, or a mere sham?

Based in the Leiden Law School, VVI and Jan Michiel Otto have always maintained close relations with, amongst others, the faculties of humanities and social sciences, KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies), the African Studies Centre Leiden, and LUCIS (Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society). Sessions of this symposium will hence be chaired by colleagues from these institutes.

Leiden University Press (LUP) has published several works of VVI and of Jan Michiel Otto in particular, including Sharia Incorporated (2010) as his pièce de résistance. LUP is happy to contribute to this day’s festivities with the launch of a book in the LUP/LUCIS Series Debates on Islam & Society, by prominent Indonesian scholar Achmad Syafii Maarif, entitled Islam, Humanity and the Indonesian Identity. ‘Buya’ Maarif is widely known for his influential Islamic voice, advocating tolerance, moderation and national development.

We hope to welcome you, friends, colleagues, students of Jan Michiel Otto, to mark that this 35-year period has formally come to an end.

Registration for this symposium


Doors open


Welcome by Adriaan Bedner (Head of Department Van Vollenhoven Institute)


Law, Governance and Society in North Africa 

Chair: Annelien Bouland (VVI) 


Léon Buskens: Islamic Law and Civil Society in Morocco: The multiple forms of modernity


Suliman Ibrahim: Striving for the Rule of Law in post-Gaddafi Libya: constraints and opportunities 




Coffee break


Law, Governance and Society in Indonesia

Chair: David Kloos (KITLV)


Willem van der Muur:  Law, Land Conflicts, and the Recognition of Adat Communities in South Sulawesi


Sulistyowati Irianto: Inheritance Rights and Gender Justice in Contemporary Indonesia


Adriaan Bedner: The Indonesian Ombudsman: Low-Key Defender of the Negara Hukum




Book launch Achmad Syafii Maarif: Islam, Humanity and Indonesian Identity (2018, Leiden University Press)


Herman Beck: Introducing Achmad Syafii Maarif


Fachrizal Afandi: Muslim Civil Society, Promote the Rule of Law in Democratic Indonesia! Call by a legal scholar from East Java


Presentation of the first copies to Nikolaos van Dam (former Ambassador of the Netherlands in Jakarta) and Din Wahid (Cultural Attaché at Indonesian Embassy, The Hague)


Lunch break (restaurant Leiden Law School)


Law, Governance, and Society in Africa

Chair: Jan-Bart Gewald (African Studies Centre Leiden)


Carolien Jacobs: Looking for Real Legal Certainty in the DR Congo


Bruno Braak: Law under Fire, People on the Move: Some reflections from South Sudanese refugees in Uganda


Annelien Bouland: A Context and its Court. The role of a Senegalese tribunal d'instance in marital conflicts and divorce




Closing session


Barbara Oomen: Refugees, Legal Uncertainty and the Role of Street-level Bureaucrats


Closing words by Janine Ubink


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