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2011 Publication Rwanda "Enhancing legal empowerment through engagement with customary justice system"

Legal empowerment and Customary Law in Rwanda : Report of a pilot project concerning community level, dispute resolution and women’s land rights.


We present a report on the results of a 10-month pilot project conducted in North-Western Rwanda that aimed to explore fruitful ways to engage with customary law in order to empower rural communities and rural women in particular. The focus is on the effectiveness of land dispute resolution at the community level and the respect for women’s formally guaranteed land rights by the institutions involved.

The immediate purpose of our pilot project was to enable the communities with which we partnered to autonomously bring a larger share of land disputes to a definitive end (in the sense that both disputants would accept the outcome) and to increase respect for women’s formally guaranteed land rights in dispute resolution. To achieve this, community level round tables, workshops and trainings were organized and specific tools were developed. Subsequently, the impact of these activities was monitored over a period of seven months. This results in a number of observations and recommendations that are primarily directed at Rwandan policymakers and development practitioners active in Rwanda. The broader aim of the pilot project was to explore fruitful ways to engage with customary law in order to empower the poor. We therefore conclude with a second set of recommendations concerning the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of legal empowerment projects that interact with customary law, which we expect to be of relevance beyond the Rwandan context.

- To download the report, please click here.

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