Justice mechanisms and conflict dynamics in Nepal: local perceptions and impacts
People in Nepal rely on a wide range of formal and informal justice systems to resolve their disputes. Informal justice mechanisms – in their varying forms – often pre-date formal mechanisms by hundreds of years and remain the preferred method of dispute resolution for the majority of Nepalis. This is largely due to their accessibility within communities and propensity for promoting and maintaining social harmony. Another reason is the formal justice vacuum that emerged in the wake of the decade-long armed conflict, which ended in 2006 and led many communities to turn to or rely further on informal justice actors.
While efforts have been made by the government to improve access to the formal justice system, including outreach programmes and an increase in resources to provide free legal support and make fees more affordable, implementation has been poor. Consequently, issues of capacity and accountability remain and are compounded by the persistent challenges of accessibility for remote, poorer or marginalised communities and individuals.
As part of a wider Saferworld project – ‘Community Initiatives for Common Understanding’ (CICU), which aims to foster mutual understanding among groups in conflict to seek common solutions – a research project was carried out to map justice provision in the five CICU districts in Nepal.
This report presents the findings of the research project, which explores community-level perceptions of formal and informal justice mechanisms, the current situation of access to justice among different community/ethnic groups, and the linkages between access to justice issues and local conflict dynamics.
“As Nepal continues its slow transition from conflict to peace, ensuring access to justice for all is vital to ensuring non-recurrence of the violence of the civil conflict, and a sustainable peace.”Saferworld Nepal programme