Customary Justice and Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies presents seven in-depth case studies that take a broad interdisciplinary approach to the study of the justice system.  USIP brought together policymakers and practitioners to discuss the ways in which recent rule of law innovations plays a role in resolving many justice reform issues.

Read the event coverage, Customary Law Plays Critical Role in Countries in Conflict, Experts Say

Karen Hall, Department of State and Scott Worden, USAID

Citizens of fragile and conflict-affected states confront threats to their security and livelihoods on a daily basis. Nearly 1.6 billion people are forced to live in the midst of violence perpetuated by a diverse array of actors - from political extremists to transnational criminal syndicates. Too often these most vulnerable and marginalized are left without a voice in their personal and political future and are denied adequate forums for addressing their grievances.

The United States Institute of Peace leads the way in developing innovative thinking about rule of law in fragile and conflict-affected countries. USIP Press Books' most recent publication - Customary Justice and Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies - moves the field toward empirically-based solutions to justice reform issues, by expanding the justice landscape to look at the evolving role that non-state actors play in resolving conflicts in communities and providing forums for locally relevant outlets of justice.

Many challenging questions remain: How do we turn lessons learned into actions that engage and empower local communities to establish justice and the rule of law? How do we transition from knowledge development to knowledge deployment using the information gained through observation of mission failures and mission successes over the last 10 years? Is a hands-on or hands-off approach from governments and international organizations most effective in empowering sustainable reform? And, how can the international community make its efforts to support and strengthen the rule of law worldwide more effective? 

The United States Institute of Peace brought together rule of law practitioners from the field and policymakers from Washington, DC to discuss these critical issues.

Read the News Feature about the event.


  • Veronica Isala Eragu Bichetero, discussant
    Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow
    United States Institute of Peace
  • Karen Hall, discussant
    Rule of Law Team Lead - Afghanistan
    Department of State - Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
  • Shelley Inglis, discussant
    Policy Advisor-Team Leader
    Rule of Law: Access to Justice and Security, Democratic Governance Group
    United Nations Development Programme
  • Deborah Isser, Book Editor
    Senior Counsel in the Justice Reform Practice Group
    World Bank
  • Scott Worden, discussant
    Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs
    United States Agency for International Development
  • Hamid Khanmoderator
    Senior Program Officer, Rule of Law Center
    United States Institute of Peace

Event Photos


Explore Further

Related Publications

Seize This Moment for Afghan Peace Talks

Seize This Moment for Afghan Peace Talks

Monday, May 21, 2018

By: Johnny Walsh

Even though fighting continues, nearly all serious observers believe a political settlement in Afghanistan is the only plausible alternative to open-ended war. So, while Taliban leaders over the last month have announced their annual spring offensive and disputed Kabul and Washington’s sincerity about making peace, they concurrently show signs of flexibility in how they envision a potential peace deal.

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

ISIS Seeks to Threaten Afghan Democracy with Latest Assault

ISIS Seeks to Threaten Afghan Democracy with Latest Assault

Thursday, May 3, 2018

By: USIP Staff; Johnny Walsh

With last week’s attack aimed at discrediting the electoral process and dissuading Afghans from participating, the Islamic State has made clear that it intends to suppress Afghanistan’s democratic development. Afghanistan’s burgeoning independent media is one of the country’s major success stories and most-trusted institutions.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Democracy & Governance

Grading Counterterrorism Cooperation with the GCC States

Grading Counterterrorism Cooperation with the GCC States

Thursday, April 26, 2018

By: Leanne Erdberg

This testimony covers the following questions: (1) How have GCC countries addressed violent extremism and terrorism within their own national borders; (2) How have GCC countries addressed violent extremism and terrorism regionally and internationally; and, (3) What recommendations can enable future GCC efforts to go beyond eliminating today’s terrorists and prevent terrorism from emerging in the first place?

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Civilian-Military Relations; Violent Extremism

Scott Worden on the Taliban in Afghanistan

Scott Worden on the Taliban in Afghanistan

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

By: Scott Worden

Following the horrendous bombing outside a Kabul voter registration center, Scott Worden shares his sobering analysis and commentary about the continuing war in Afghanistan where he says most agree that a military victory is unlikely. The conflicts grinding stalemate, Fall 2018 elections and presidential elections due a year from now concern Worden especially with today’s Taliban announcement of a new fighting season and rejection of President Ghani’s peace offering.

Violent Extremism; Electoral Violence; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications