ADR Times

ADR Mechanisms

Operating Within a Legal Framework to Facilitate Rule of Law

While there is poverty, there will be violence. On a daily basis, the poor must combat illegal detention, forced labor and slavery, land seizures, police corruption, and gender violence. Foreign aid is poured into impoverished countries to help combat this violence, but the poorest of the poor rarely see any real change in their daily lives. In fact, money alone will not make much of a difference: a country’s wealth is not derived from its machinery or tools or natural resources; instead, wealth is often linked to the quality of institutions in a country.

Consequently, “[r]ich countries are largely rich because of the skills of their populations and the quality of the institutions supporting economic activity.” In contrast, poor countries are poor because they have failing school systems and rampant corruption in their public justice systems which destroy intangible capital and ensure the people in the country remain poor. A country’s wealth will grow if there is development of law and good schools systems regardless of whether foreign aid is being poured into the country.

The poor are confronted with police corruption and various forms of abuses. In the past 60 years, the international human rights movement has made great strides in getting countries to criminalize this abuse; however, laws are rarely enforced because the public justice system is broken. Despite decades of international humanitarian work, one study found that poor people feel they have been penalized from the “massive political and economic changes and restructuring around the world.” The public justice system must undergo various changes to eliminate or decrease the daily violence that the poor are subjected to. Unfortunately, individuals who work towards eliminating poverty are rarely experts on the public justice system and individuals who work towards revamping the public justice system are rarely experts on eliminating poverty.

One way to help change the public justice system is to work with already-existing informal types of dispute resolution in the community and link them to the public justice system. In Part II, this article will highlight ADR mechanisms which fail to address underlying violence in the developing world. Part III will highlight various community-based ADR mechanisms that are working toward eliminating violence in the developing world. Part IV will examine some of the advantages and disadvantages of ADR mechanisms. Part V will propose a community-based ADR mechanism that operates within the public justice pipeline; moreover, this section will discuss various factors to consider in creating this “hybrid” system. Utilizing a community-based ADR mechanism which operates within the public justice framework will provide access to the public court system and help eliminate violence that the poor are confronted with on a daily basis.

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by Mikita Weaver
See Ronald Bailey, The Secrets of Intangible Wealth, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE (Sept 27 2007) available at
Deepa Narayan, Robert Chambers, Meera Shah, & Patti Petesch, Global Synthesis: Consulations with the Poor, POVERTY GROUP WORLD BANK 13(1999).
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