Promoting Access to Justice: a study on Strategies to Implement Collaborative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms and Procedures for Resolving Conflicts in Liberia Liberian Ministry of Justice By Christopher W


Chapter 3 Methodology for the Scoping Study



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Chapter 3 Methodology for the Scoping Study


The methodology for the Scoping Study has four parts:

  1. The results of a Desk Review and literature review on non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms, approaches, procedures and service providers in Liberia and other countries;

  2. The collection and reading of diverse legislation used in a number of countries around the world to institutionalize non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms, approaches and procedures;

  3. Input from participants in large focus group meetings conducted in the four counties targeted for implementation of the non-judicial dispute resolution pilot program; and

  4. Numerous individual and small group interviews with Liberian officials in positions of authority and other opinion makers related to dispute resolution issues in governmental, customary, and civil society sectors.

The Desk Review provided the initial framework for the Scoping Study. It involved an extensive review of literature that addressed the topics for the study identified in Chapter 1. The study examined, common disputes occurring in Liberia; non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms, approaches and procedures that currently exist and are being used in the country; legal and institutional issues that promote, encourage or create barriers to the use of non-judicial dispute resolution approaches and procedures; gaps and strengths in the current provision of non-judicial dispute resolution services and service providers in the country. The Desk Review also identified a range of potential non-judicial dispute resolution approaches and procedures, which might be included in the pilot, including several related to restorative justice (RJ). Finally, the Desk Review concluded with initial recommendations for further analysis to determine an appropriate focus for the pilot program. These were further explored with focus groups and in interviews, which are described later in this chapter.

The collection of legislation from countries around the world on initiatives to introduce and institutionalize non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms, approaches and procedures was initiated to provide insights into what others had done to increase access to justice, and to provide potential models for legislation in Liberia, as appropriate or needed.

Four large focus groups were convened to solicit the views of a cross section of Liberians concerning a range of topics related to non-judicial dispute services and service providers. Meetings of one-day in duration were held in Bong, Lofa, Montserrado and Nimba Counties. Participants included leaders and representatives of government Ministries, Counties and Districts, actors in the judicial sector (a judge, administrators and lawyers), customary authorities (Chiefs, Zoes and elders), civil society actors from NGOs and CBOs who represented dispute resolution service users; and national and international providers of dispute resolution services. There were 52 participants in the Bong, 64 in Lofa, 57 in Montserrado, and 50 in Nimba County focus groups. (See Appendix B for a List of Participants in each of the Focus Groups.)

A presentation was made to each focus group on the proposed pilot project and the results of the Desk Review. Subsequently, participants formed smaller working groups based on their roles in Liberian communities and involvement in dispute resolution, and asked a similar set of questions about disputes and non-judicial dispute resolution. (See Appendix C for Questions for Focus Groups and Interviewees.) Participants were asked to identify the types of disputes that were the most common and those that would be high priority for the pilot to address; to assess the strengths and weaknesses of current non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms, approaches, procedures – such as those provided by government officials other than the judiciary, customary authorities and national and international civil society actors; and to make recommendations on the kinds of non-judicial dispute resolution services or service providers that should be enhanced or developed anew as part of the pilot. Participant input was compiled and analyzed to identify common themes, trends and proposed areas of focus for the future MOJ initiative.

In addition to input from participants in focus groups, 231 individual or small group interviews and consultations were conducted with numerous government officials, customary authorities and civil society actors. Fatu Daramy-Mensah conducted the majority of interviews. She was assisted in some of them by Arthur Johnson, the National Consultant, and Christopher Moore, the International Consultant.

Some of the individuals and representatives of groups interviewed include: The Minister of Justice, judges, magistrates, county attorneys, public defenders, probation supervisors and officers, and officers of the Liberian National Police; County Superintendents, Assistant County Superintendents, Commissioners and staff, Land Commissioners and Land Inspectors; mayors; a Commissioner of the Liberian Land Commission, Land Commission staff and County Land Coordination Center Staff; leaders of the National Council of Elders and Chiefs, Traditional Women United for Peace, Traditional Chairmen, and Paramount and Clan Chiefs; Hub managers and staff; a member of the Law Reform Commission; Hub Managers; the Coordinator of the Gender Office and other staff of the Ministry of Gender and Development; Justice and Peace Commission Members; leaders and staff of multiple national and international NGOs and international agencies providing dispute resolution services or assistance such as the Norwegian Refugee Council, Carter Center, Catholic Peace and Justice and Tetra Techs Land Dispute Resolution Project; along with many others.

Interviews were relatively unstructured, but were guided by a list of targeted questions to elicit input on and answers to a number of key questions related to existing non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms and procedures and selection and implementation of the pilot program. (See Appendix D for the List of Potential Questions asked to Interviewees on ADR/CDR).




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