Traditional, Customary Justice Systems: updated and expanded ICJ compilation of standards launched

The ICJ today publishes an expanded and updated version of Indigenous and Other Traditional or Customary Justice Systems: selected international sources.

The compilation is a unique practical resource for practitioners in official State justice systems and indigenous, traditional or customary systems.

It is also intended to assist other community members, government officials, development practitioners, civil society organizations, and academic and other professionals who engage with such justice systems.

The compilation is being published as part of an ongoing project on the relationship between indigenous and other traditional or customary justice systems and human rights, access to justice, and the rule of law.

Among the sources included in the compilation are global and regional treaty provisions, UN and other declarations, and the jurisprudence and recommendations of Committees and Special Procedures established by treaties and the UN Human Rights Council.

The sources are organized by themes including the rights of women, rights of children, the role of judges and lawyers and the administration of justice, the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of minorities, and transitional justice.

This revised edition incorporates new developments since 2018, including the landmark report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and expands to cover certain topics more comprehensively, particularly with respect to indigenous rights.

The ICJ’s multi-year project has included global and Asia-Pacific and Africa regional consultations, and continues in 2020 with a concluding Global Forum in Geneva, and culminating with the publication by ICJ of detailed legal and practical guidance.

The guidance will seek to assist all actors involved in implementation and assessment of relevant targets of Sustainable Development Goal 16 on access to justice for all and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions, as well as Goal 5 on gender equality, including: decision-makers and other participants in traditional and customary justice systems; judges, lawyers and prosecutors operating in official justice systems; other government officials; development agencies; United Nations and other inter-governmental organizations; and civil society.

The initial version of the compilation was published in January 2018 under the title Traditional and Customary Justice Systems: Selected International Sources.


Matt Pollard, Senior Legal Adviser,


Universal-Trad Custom Justice Compil updated-Publications-2019-ENG (updated and expanded version of the compilation, in PDF)


Cover Photo: Traditional leaders preside over a case in B-Court, Nyang Payam, Torit County, South Sudan.  Photo Credit: UNDP South Sudan\2016\Angelique Reid ©2016 United Nations

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