Towards Peace: Rethinking Justice and Legal Pluralism in the Bangsamoro
93 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2015
In March 2014 the government of the Philippines signed a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro for a final peace settlement in the armed conflict in the southern province of Mindanao. The Agreement will be given legal form in the Bangsamoro Basic Law, currently before the Philippine Congress and anticipated to be enacted in early 2015. A foundational assumption of the transitional process and the Basic Law is that the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will, through a referendum process, become a politically and legally self-governing sub-region of the Philippines: the Bangsamoro.
How justice currently functions within the legally pluralist ARMM matters because long-held perceptions of injustice by citizens in ARMM are one of the key drivers of the current sub-national conflict in the Philippines. Existing studies and the preliminary empirical work on which this paper is based suggest that there is a direct link between failures of justice provision and violence in ARMM; that the most vulnerable citizens in ARMM currently have little or no recourse to legal protection and remedies; and that lack of attention to the legal architecture in the Bangsamoro could contribute to its ongoing political fragility. This paper summarizes the available data on legal pluralism in Mindanao and frames some of the unresolved questions for justice system design in the Bangsamoro transition.
Keywords: Legal pluralism, justice and gender, post-conflict, non-state justice, informal justice, shari’ah, Bangsamoro, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Mindanao, Philippines
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