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The Publicity 'Defect' of Customary Law

Varun Gauri

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

June 1, 2010

World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5349

This paper examines the extent to which dispute resolvers in customary law systems provide widely understandable justifications for their decisions. The paper first examines the liberal-democratic reasons for the importance of publicity, understood to be wide accessibility of legal justification, by reviewing the uses of publicity in Habermas' and Rawls' accounts of the rule of law. Taking examples from Sierra Leone, the paper then argues that customary law systems would benefit from making the reasons for local dispute resolution practices, such as begging from elders, witchcraft, and openness of hearings, more widely accessible. The paper concludes that although legal pluralism is usually taken to be an analytical concept, it may have a normative thrust as well, and that publicity standards would also apply to formal courts in developing countries, which are also typically defective along this dimension.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: Legal Products, Gender and Law, Children and Youth, Public Sector Corruption & Anticorruption Measures, Parliamentary Government

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Date posted: June 29, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Gauri, Varun, The Publicity 'Defect' of Customary Law (June 1, 2010). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series, Vol. , pp. -, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1630233

Contact Information

Varun Gauri (Contact Author)
World Bank ( email )
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States
HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/vgauri
World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)
1818 H. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States
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