Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Supporting Primary Justice in Insecure Contexts, South Sudan and Afghanistan

How can the emergence of primary justice systems be facilitated and furthered?

2014 - 2016
Jan Michiel Otto

This socio-legal research project aimed to explore people's justice concerns and experiences with different justice providers, both state and non-state. We looked to what extent responses of justice providers are perceived as adequate by the different parties involved. From this, we distilled 'elements that work,' which can feed into Cordaid's programming and which can inform other stakeholders in the field. The long-term vision of the project is to further and facilitate the emergence of accessible 'primary justice' systems at local levels in South Sudan and Afghanistan. 

The research is based on qualitative field research carried out in two districts in Afghanistan; Behsud and Istalif, and in one state in South Sudan: Western Equatoria State. Together with local researchers we will collect data on various cases, especially in relation to property disputes and family disputes. The research sites are worlds apart, yet share many of the basic configurations which make security and justice hard to attain; distrust of the state, persistent violent conflict, powerful local strongmen, weak state institutions. Analytical comparison between both countries and research areas, will help formulating points of departure for development programming and advance scientific knowledge on primary justice in fragile states.

As part of the project we have published various reports, which are listed below. Please consult the reading guide for some background.

  1. Exploring Primary Justice in South Sudan: Challenges, concerns, and elements that workby Bruno Braak
  2. Exploring Primary Justice in Afghanistan: Challenges, concerns, and elements that work, by Friederike Stahlmann
  3. Exploring Primary Justice in Insecure Contexts: South Sudan and Afghanistan, by Carolien Jacobs and Jan Michiel Otto
  4. Literature Review: Justice in South Sudanby Bruno Braak and Carolien Jacobs
  5. A Decade and a Half of Rebuilding Afghanistan's Justice System, by Ali Wardak
  6. Supporting Primary Justice in Insecure Contexts: Strategy document on policy and programming recommendationsby Cordaid
  7. Policy Brief South Sudan, by Bruno Braak 
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