Local Justice

Comparing state-sponsored dispute settlement institutions

Led by: Professor Richard Crook, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, in collaboration with Kojo Pumpuni Asante and Victor Brobbey at the Center for Democratic Development, Ghana

Countries: Ghana 

Theme: A ‘rule of law' for all citizens is one of the most fundamental public goods which an effective and legitimate state is expected to provide. This research stream asks:

  • To what extent are African states providing, through their judicial institutions, forms of justice which are effective, accessible, legitimate and trusted by their citizens?
  • What explains the degree to which such positive outcomes are achieved?
  • Which classes of persons benefit most from the operations of state-supported judicial institutions?
Research aim: Focussing on land, inheritance, property and family disputes, this stream compares formal state courts at local level with other kinds of state-supported dispute settlement institutions (DSIs) in Ghana. It aims to explore popular beliefs and expectations about justice and dispute resolution and to establish the extent to which they are embodied in the procedures and codes of law offered by the various DSIs. Overall, the research is looking at the extent to which state institutions can combine the benefits of being formal, authoritatively-coordinated institutions, with informal practices that are responsive to local cultures, and thus operate as effective hybrids.

The Africa Power and Politics Programme is a Research Programme Consortium funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Irish Aid for the benefit of developing countries.
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