Development actors are increasingly interested in non-state justice. This panel will examine these agencies' approaches to legal pluralism in Africa from a legal anthropological and empirical angle. We welcome contributions which critically analyze actual practices beyond standardized lessons learnt
International development aid always influences the existing legal relationships and changes the conditions under which people might make use of their rights. This is particularly true for those projects or programmes which explicitly aim at the promotion of the rule of law, good governance and justice or are subject to conditionality. International development agencies become thus increasingly aware of the critical impact of legal pluralism on the success of their conventional project approaches and try framing new and more inclusive programme designs by referring to customary, non-state or informal justice providers. This trend is particularly accentuated in the African context, where development actors also grapple with the lack of capacity of many African states to provide the population with basic justice services. These interventions are varied in scope and nature. They include legal and institutional reforms, capacity building for justice users and providers and a range of strategies to improve compliance with human rights within dispute management at local level. While a growing body of normative literature provides guidelines on how international agencies can take account of legal pluralism, this panel aims at examining international development agencies' approaches to legal pluralism in Africa from a legal anthropological and empirical point of view. Contributions which critically examine actual practices on the ground and go beyond simple and standardized lessons learnt that are just shifted from one spot to the other, are warmly welcomed.