Status and Contract in an Emerging Democracy: The Evolution of Dispute Resolution in Ghana
Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Forthcoming
30 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2014 Last revised: 13 May 2014
Date Written: March 6, 2014
Ghana is one of the developing world’s success stories. The first sub-Saharan colony to gain independence, it is a stable democracy experiencing sustained economic growth. Yet as Ghana reaches for the material gains of participation in modern commercial life, its dual legal systems — the system of customary adjudication by traditional authorities and the formal court system — have come under increasing pressure. New legal developments have truncated the authority of traditional decision-makers, while an overburdened court system lacks the resources to fill the resulting adjudicative gaps. To solve the problem, Ghana is now experimenting with a system of quasi-public dispute resolution, including contractual arbitration and court-connected mediation. If successful, this experiment could provide a model for other emerging democracies seeking to promote greater access to justice while integrating traditional and national adjudicative structures.
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