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Neutrality, party politics and community mediation in central and west Terai, Nepal

Suykens, Bert and Stein, Danielle (2014) Neutrality, party politics and community mediation in central and west Terai, Nepal. Theories in practice series (JSRP Paper 12). Justice and Security Research Programme, International Development Department, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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This paper examines the relationship between the concept of neutrality in community mediation and the inherently partisan nature of politics. Mediation theory often highlights the central importance of mediator neutrality in mediation practice. We examine the interplay between these two fields through an analysis of a donorsupported community mediation program in the Central and Western Terai, the belt of lowland plains in the south of Nepal. This paper tries to understand why, in areas where politician’s role in dispute settlement is considered highly biased, neutrality in mediation can still be an option for these politicians. This paper argues that, despite clear reasons for mediators to act in a biased way, there are also incentives for them to act neutrally. These incentives stem primarily from political concerns as related to authority and standing in the community. In a context where both disputants and politicians ‘shop’ between different dispute settlement mechanisms, this paper finds that these incentives influence where these groups choose to adjudicate cases. In this wider dispute settlement context, where politicians have incentives to be neutral in mediation, but partisan in other dispute settlement settings, there is a danger that while the ‘internal’ neutrality of community mediation might be upheld, this goes at the detriment of neutrality in justice delivery as a whole.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors
Divisions: International Development
Justice and Security Research Programme
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2014 09:00
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 12:02
Projects: Justice and Security Research Programme (JSRP)
Funders: UK aid, UK Government

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