Collaborative Governance: responding to disasters

ndBuilding on a growing body of economic, social and ethical work in the field of disaster response, recent empirical findings in the area of law & governance have been published examining how communities respond to natural disasters.

The key findings of this research are that where local partnership and knowledge generation and application is ongoing, cohesive, meaningful and inclusive, disaster relief efforts are more targeted, cost-effective, efficient and timely (S. Ali. (2016). Governing Disasters: Engaging Local Populations in Humanitarian Relief, Cambridge University Press).  The findings address an emerging obligation to incorporate local participation in global humanitarian instruments (Ali, S and Kabau, T. (2015) A Human Rights Based Approach to the Global Regulation of Humanitarian Relief: The Emerging Obligation to Incorporate Local Participation, BROOKLYN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW).  The findings also speak to the efficacy of ‘peer presence’ or substantive accompaniment in disaster response and report a statistically significant correlation between the level of “peer” engagement with a local community and perceived effectiveness of response (Ali, S. (2015) Toward Peer Presence in Post-Disaster Governance: An Empirical Study, HASTINGS INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW REVIEW).  In addition, the findings examine the role of non-state actors in the evolution of humanitarian norms (Ali, S and Kabau, T. (2014) Non-State Actors and the Evolution of Humanitarian Norms: Implications of the Sphere Charter in Health and Nutrition Relief, JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LEGAL STUDIES, Brill/Nijhoff), the emergence of crowd-sourced governance in disaster response (Ali, S (2014). Crowd Sourced Governance in a Post Disaster Context, INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW QUARTERLY, Cambridge University Press), and self-governance by humanitarian non-state actors (Ali, S. and Kabau, T. (2014). Self Governance by Humanitarian Non-State Actors in Health and Nutrition Relief, DEPAUL JOURNAL OF HEALTH LAW).  The findings also address the role of transparency rules in addressing polycentric environmental disaster-related disputes (Ali, S. (2015) Asian Disasters, Global Impact: Japan’s Fukushima Disaster and Prospects of Utilizing Investor-State Mediation and UNCITRAL Transparency Rules for Polycentric Environmental Disaster-Related Disputes, ASIAN DISPUTE REVIEW).

The research has been supported by the Hong Kong Research grants council (HKU 757412H). Comments and feedback are most welcome.  Please contact Cambridge Press if your library or University is interested in pre-ordering a copy of the manuscript.


Multi-Stakeholder Dispute Resolution: Building Social Capital Through Access to Justice

The development of systems of multi-stakeholder dispute resolution is increasingly recognized as an objective of good governance by international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).  Such objectives arise out of insights based on the dynamics of social capital that community based initiatives cannot succeed where trust is absent and mechanisms for collective decision making do not exist. Yet localized decision making can take many forms – whether distributional, competitive or collaborative.  A recent article by Shahla Ali, William Davis and Felicia Lee examines, in particular the impact of collaborative systems of decision making on building social capital through access to justice in local communities. It does this through examining participant feedback, meeting minutes, and post-consultation reports of a community multi-stakeholder dialogue process in Cajamarca, Peru. The creation of dispute resolution forums where community members can actively participate in the generation of shared objectives, collect and access information, and take action on issues of collective concern represents an important foundation for the development of social capital.

Making Justice Accessible in Cambodia

The UNDP recently announced the creation of 10 additional new Centers for Justice Services in Cambodia (“Maisons de la Justice”). This brings the total number of such Centers to 30.

According to the UNDP report, through the Centers, the government provides free mediation services for civic disputes in local communities. This is one of a number of initiatives set up by the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Interior, in close cooperation with the Council of Legal and Judicial Reform and with assistance from UNDP, to provide alternative means of resolving conflict, particularly in rural areas, where formal justice systems, such as courts, are difficult to access.

The full report can be found here.