Informal Justice as Restorative Justice – Afghan and International Experts Discuss the UN Principles on Restorative Justice

Workshop on the “Use of Restorative Justice in the Social and Legal Context of Afghanistan – Exploring Challenges and Solutions”, 24–25 June 2014, organised by the Max Planck Foundation

Since 2002 great efforts have been undertaken in Afghanistan to advance the rule of law through the formal justice sector. At the same time there is a long-standing history of traditional dispute resolution by shuras and jirgas (tribal councils) throughout the country. As outlined here, the Max Planck Foundation in cooperation with its implementation partner is exploring ways of linking these two systems of dispute resolution.

Prior to the workshop, representatives from civil society, government institutions, and tribal elders were separately introduced to the concept of restorative justice before bringing them together for joint discussions. The workshop first of all provided an introduction to the concept of restorative justice and how it is practiced in other countries such as Pakistan, the Philippines and Timor-Leste before reviewing the “Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programs in Criminal Matters” presented by the United Nation in ECOSOC Resolution 2002/12. All participants agreed that it is important to regulate the traditional dispute resolution practices and link them to the formal justice system. Subsequently a representative working group was formed which will further explore how the informal justice sector can be formalised in a way that respects both Afghan traditions as well as human rights and the rule of law at large.

It will hold regular meetings under guidance from legal scholars with expertise on formal and informal justice systems. The group will also assist the Government of Afghanistan whenever a law on jirgas and shuras is to be drafted. At the end of the year an international conference is planned during which the results of the project will be presented.