Afghanistan- Institutional vs Informal Justice?

Having been in many developing countries, including Afghanistan where I was involved in parts of the strategy mentioned below, I have found myself wondering the same questions posed by this article all the time. However, I do admit that, being a poster child of development of Singapore, I often hold a chip on my shoulder about 'imperialism', 'western ideas' and 'technical assistance'. Still, I often wonder if I have traded sides when I started working for the 'international development' industry.

By Jasteena Dhillon
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published on Thursday, Mar. 04, 2010 4:55PM EST

"It is widely believed that 80 per cent of Afghans use what is called the “informal justice” system to resolve their legal disputes. If this is accurate, we must ask why the international community continues to spend billions of dollars on implementing a Western-style justice strategy that focuses primarily on formal institutional development – like the rebuilding of courthouses and training of the actors in the formal judicial system – when most Afghans are perfectly content with what they already have.

The international community has too often approached the development of institutions in postconflict states from the perspective that they know best how to solve the problems there. But this viewpoint is naive and shortsighted." Read the rest of the article

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