Article: Africa: Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Comparative Perspective

 in the January 2018 edition of Conflict Studies Quarterly.

by Nokukhanya Ntuli

Republished from Conflict Studies Quarterly
Issue 22, January 2018

Abstract. In many African countries, attempts to address poor access to justice, have led to the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), in the form of mediation, negotiation and arbitration. The popularisation and promotion of ADR is done using “international best practices and standards” developed in countries such as the USA, Australia and UK. Yet, a closer examination of some of the challenges with access to justice in Africa, which ADR is attempting to address, reveal, among other things, that the use of foreign procedures, principles and languages, in the formal justice systems, alienate many people and have contributed in creating a real barrier to the accessibility of justice. By using a comparative approach, the purpose of this article is to raise caution that although ADR may have useful components to improve access to justice in Africa, it cannot be viewed or introduced as a new concept coming from developed countries. Doing so, it perpetuates imperialistic attitudes, disempowers millions of people by disregarding their cultural practices and invalidates systems which have been in use for centuries.

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