DSA2016: Politics in Development
- Imane Chaara (University of Oxford) email
- Jean-Benoît Falisse (University of Edinburgh) email
- Julien Moriceau (Avocats Sans Frontières) email
- Olivier Sterck (University of Oxford) email
This panel focuses on issues of rule of law and access to justice, and investigates how people navigate justice systems, especially in transition periods characterized by weak institutions. The panel presents diverse micro-level studies on access to formal and/or informal justice in fragile states.
Access to justice is a daunting challenge in so-called "fragile" states. It has become central in development policy with the new Sustainable Development Goals that comprise the objective of "promoting the rule of law and ensuring access to justice for all" (Goal 16, Target 16.3). The improvement of access to justice raises numerous questions, and among others: how effective are rights-based programs in promoting the rule of law, especially for the most marginalized groups? How can trust between the population and justice institutions be (re)built in post-conflict contexts? How 'political' is access to justice in these contexts? How do the role of traditional institutions evolve?
The question of access to justice has received a growing attention in development studies, where researchers coming from economics, law, political science and anthropology have started exploring the issue. A promising body of research is growing in importance and presents somewhat mixed evidence on the impact of projects aiming to improve access to justice.
The panel seeks to discuss questions that are critical in order to extend this research field and produce rigorous evidence: what are the outcomes of access to justice programs and policies? Can we measure them, and if so, how? How can we adapt and integrate research methods coming from different field as development economics, political science, and legal analysis? The panel provides a space to discuss a growing literature and discuss the challenges and possible future trends of one of the newest areas of interest in interdisciplinary development studies.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Karamojong women and the extremes of insecurity
The Karamojong crisis is most extreme for women. Patriarchy is intensifying, eroding women’s few rights. Their access to justice is restricted to traditional courts which offer no protection, yet women’s awareness of their situation seems to be changing. We ask if this signals future social change.
While the Karamojong pastoralists of north-east Uganda are experiencing severe insecurity following the loss of most of their cattle as a consequence of a misconceived and uneven disarmament process that started in 2006, women are experiencing an even greater crisis than men. Not only external threats have increased, but also threats from within their communities, where social structures appear to have become more oppressive and less responsive to the needs of women. Pastoralist societies are typically patriarchal, but little has been written on how women experience this, and what this might presage in terms of the social changes being promoted by development actors. The army is the principle manifestation of the state in a region that has been marginalised from the colonial period onwards, and the formal justice law and order sector offers negligible security to the population. Community-level justice delivered by local council courts is subordinate to customary justice handed down by elders, which confirms men's property rights over and in relation to women. Representation on local councils has raised women's awareness of their vulnerability and subjugation; but also generated hope of at least being able to control the household goods they generate and of protection from more extreme domestic and intra-community violence. We examine women's responses to this situation, asking whether momentum for change in gender relations is being generated, or whether more oppressive patriarchy, and women's dissatisfaction and resistance to it, are a recurrent feature of the crises that have repeatedly afflicted Karamoja.
Delivering justice to the poor: theory and experimental evidence from Liberia
Can progressive legal reform improve the lives of the poor where formal legal institutions have limited reach? Using data from Liberia, we show that paralegals encourage marginalized groups to access the formal system, having significant impacts on legal case outcomes as well as household material gains.
Can progressive legal reform improve the lives of the poor in places where formal legal institutions have limited reach? We develop a simple model of forum choice highlighting the tradeoff faced by poor and socially disadvantaged plaintiffs between repressive customary law and a more progressive, but expensive and punitive formal justice system. We test our predictions using new survey data on over 4,500 legal disputes in rural Liberia, and a randomized trial of paralegals trained in the formal law. Consistent with our model, plaintiffs facing bias under the custom - e.g., women suing men - are more likely to opt out of customary courts in favor of both the formal system and the experimental treatment, and are relatively happier when they do. Plaintiffs offered pro bono legal aid are significantly more satisfied with case outcomes, pay fewer bribes, and report large material gains in terms of food security.
Does legal aid services delivery improve access to justice in fragile states? Lessons from an impact evaluation of a large scale legal aid programme in Burundi
An evaluation of a legal aid programme in Burundi finds improvements in access to formal but not of satisfaction with the local courts or improvement in the settlement of cases.
As many other fragile states, Burundi has no concrete experience of any large-scale legal assistance, despite the fact that the right to counsel is guaranteed by various international instruments. A broad programme providing legal awareness, legal advice, and to a lesser extent legal representation, was implemented in Burundi between 2011 and 2014, with EU support. We carried out an evaluation of this project at the end of 2014 and collected data from different sources: a household survey on over 3500 people living in the area targeted by the programme; around 35 semi-directive interviews with justice system actors; and data from the Ministry of Justice and other justice development programmes. We find that the project improves access to formal justice (local courts) but not satisfaction with the local courts or improvement in the settlement of cases.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.