Support for justice provision, both formal and informal, constitutes a significant element of donor assistance in Nepal. An initial shift towards supporting informal justice mechanisms (IJMs) began during the decade-long violent conflict between the state and the Maoists that continued until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2006. Donors have since renewed support for the reform and trengthening of the formal justice sector, but have continued to support IJMs. In particular, they have supported ‘new’ IJMs such as paralegal and community mediation committees. These systems today make up one layer of an increasingly complex matrix of formal and informal justice mechanisms, which include both traditional and other non-donor supported IJMs.
This paper builds on questions raised by earlier Saferworld research into IJMs, conducted between November 2009 and April 2010. This research revealed a complex and seemingly disjointed patchwork of donor-supported IJM projects, most of which were operating at a fairly small scale and without clear links either to formal or to other informal justice mechanisms. The research raised a number of challenging questions, including how and why donors first began supporting new IJMs, whether and how these new systems contribute to the strengthening of a broader system of justice in Nepal and to what extent their creation has supported ongoing peacebuilding efforts across the country.