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Forging the middle ground: Engaging non-state justice in indonesia

Available in: Bahasa (Indonesian)
Untitled Document


  • Document the workings of non-state justice at the village level with a particular focus on social inclusion and the perspectives of the marginalized

  • Understand the dynamics of change and how to translate them into a framework  that embraces the strengths of non-state justice, and also address the shortcomings of non-state justice

Main Conclusions

  • Primary form of dispute resolution; crucial for livelihoods of the poor – informal justice is the primary form of dispute resolution. How disputes are resolved has significant economic and social consequences for the poor.

  • Informal justice mechanisms have clear strengths – research suggests that for small intra-communal disputes, non state justice operates rapidly and effectively. High satisfaction rates reflect the success.

  • But also significant weaknesses – lack of clear standards, absence of upward/ downward accountability, opaque interface with the formal system and systemic under-representation of women and minorities combine to create significant arbitrariness. Local power relations and social norms dictate processes and outcomes, often to the disadvantage of the weak and disempowered

  • Positive examples of change exist, albeit few and far between – some local groups are creating progressive dynamics on the backs of political openness and democracy


Full Report
(873kb .pdf)

Executive Summary
(873kb .pdf)

Section 1:

Section 2:
Understanding Non-State Justice Mechanisms: Dispute Typology & Process

Section 3:
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Non-State Justice

Section 4:
Forging the Middle Ground: Embracing Strengths and Addressing Weaknesses Conclusions & Recommendations

Press Release:
Engaging Non-State Justice: An Important Element of Justice Sector Reform

Justice For The Poor at The World Bank Indonesia


  • Combine grassroots action and policy change – forging meaningful middle ground requires change in mix of policy, regulations and grassroots action.

  • Strengthen downward accountability – empowering weak and marginalized groups to demand better quality service from informal justice.

  • Improve the quality of non-state justice – build capacity  of non-state justice systems and actors.

  • Enlarge the shadow of the law – increase access to formal justice system in order to increase options for dispute resolution at local level.

  • Enhance upward mobility – establish national guidelines to strengthen interface with formal sector and regional regulations that institutionalize a core set of principles that promote equity and are consistent with constitutional standards


Priority Action


  • Increase rights awareness among women and minority groups
  • Increase downward accountability among dispute resolution actors, by having the public elect them
  • Legal literacy and circuit court programs to increase access to formal system
  • Support social mobilization and organization to address trans-communal disputes

Village institutions and Non-state justice actors

  • Build the skills and capacity of non-state justice actors to resolve disputes professionally
  • Support clarification of structures and norms
  • Support representation for women and minorities in village institutions

District level

  • Establish regional regulatory framework that enshrines constitutional standards ensuring right of appeal, humane sanctions and representation for women and minorities
  • Build upward accountability by supporting civil society and government monitoring and oversight

National level

  • Court regulations clarifying the jurisdiction  of non-state justice vis a vis the courts
  • Consider establishing Community Justice Liaison Unit to encourage compatibility and consistency between non-state and state justice


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