International Council on Human Rights Policy
Publication Date: 
January, 2009

This report highlights human rights impacts and dilemmas associated with plural state and non-state laws, such as family laws based on religion, customary justice practices and Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms. Drawing on examples of such plural legal orders from around the world, it proposes principles and a framework to guide human rights practitioners and policy-makers.

The report also identifies challenges related to incorporation of non-state law in state law, recognition of cultural differences in law, and justice sector reform. Emphasising the contested nature of culture, especially when dealing with gender equality, religious freedom and indigenous peoples’ rights, it calls for evidence-based assessments of plural legal orders that give special attention to people on the margins of state and non-state law, and equality between and within communities.

Report on Legal Pluralism

The International Council on Human Rights Policy is pleased to announce the release of its report When Legal Worlds Overlap: Human Rights, State and Non-State Law.

The full report, available in English, can be downloaded free of charge (in PDF format) here:

A copy of the report can also be ordered electronically through the Council’s website here:

Every hard copy of the report is accompanied by a mini CD containing over 200 relevant background documents and material.

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