In some circumstances, traditional mechanisms can complement conventional judicial systems and provide the potential for promoting justice, reconciliation and a culture of democracy.

This book is both a general knowledge resource and a practitioner’s guide. It is aimed at national bodies seeking to employ traditional justice mechanisms, and at external agencies supporting such processes. Each case study and the conclusions have clear recommendations for how traditional justice mechanisms can be implemented.

This book is based on the findings of a comparative study examining the role played by traditional justice mechanisms in dealing with the legacy of violent conflict in Africa. It focuses on five countries—Burundi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda—that are used as the basis for outlining conclusions and options for future policy development in the related areas of post-conflict reconstruction, democracy building and development.

The authors caution against unrealistic expectations of traditional structures and offers a sober, evidence-based assessment of both the strengths and the weaknesses of traditional conflict management mechanisms within the broader framework of post-conflict social reconstruction efforts.


Publication date
06 February 2008
Luc Huyse, Mark Salter
Number of pages
978-91-85724-28-4 (Print)




Acronyms and abbreviations

1. Introduction: tradition-based approaches in peacemaking, transitional justice and reconciliation policies
Luc Huyse

2. The Gacaca Courts in Rwanda
Bert Ingelaere

3. Restorative justice and the role of magamba spirits in post-civil war Gorongosa, central Mozambique
Victor Igreja and Beatrice Dias-Lambranca

4. Northern Uganda: tradition-based practices in the Acholi region
James Ojera Latigo

5. Reconciliation and traditional justice: tradition-based practices of the Kpaa Mende in Sierra Leone
Joe A.D. Alie

6. The institution of bashingantahe in Burundi
Assumpta Naniwe-Kaburahe

7. Conclusions and recommendations
Luc Huyse

Case study

Traditional Justice Mechanisms: The Liberian Case
Ezekiel Pajibo

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Traditional Justice and Reconciliation after Violent Conflict: Learning from African Experiences

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