Common principles of justice in Nepal

On 5 July International Alert, in partnership with the National Judicial Academy, Forum for Women Law and Development and Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre, launched a document that outlines the principles of justice for state and non-state justice providers in Nepal. Lack of access to state justice systems has prompted many Nepalis, particularly those within vulnerable and marginalised communities in rural areas, to make use of unregulated non-state systems to resolve disputes. While these non-state justice systems have an important role to play in the Nepali legal system and are a key part to resolving disputes, there is a lack of clarity over the most appropriate role for these mechanisms, and the linkages with the state system needed to construct an effective national justice sector are weak and ad hoc. Our new document is the first of its kind to provide all justice actors with a comprehensive overview of the principles of natural justice, gender norms and human rights norms. It can be used as a guide when dispensing justice to ensure that all decisions are fair, inclusive and accountable. The principles also provide clarity on the respective roles and responsibilities of different justice providers, promoting a better understanding among non-state justice actors of where the role of informal justice mechanisms ends and that of the state begins. It will serve as a guiding tool for the state and non-state justice sectors to update and/or formulate their own internal codes of practice. The document is important because it will help ensure that justice actors adhere to their rightful mandates and therefore facilitate improved access to justice and protection of basic human rights for all people in Nepal. The document is a joint achievement and was drafted by a committee formed by the National Judicial Academy Nepal in coordination with the Justice Sector Coordination Committee of the Nepalese Supreme Court. It was finalised after a series of consultations with formal and informal justice actors, traditional justice actors and civil society members. To find out more about International Alert's work with the justice sector in Nepal, funded by the European Union, please visit Photo: Formal and informal justice actors discussing issues concerning access to justice in Mahottari district in Nepal.