Publication details

‘Justice in post-conflict Burundi: from a dual legal system under the mandate to legal revivals in the bifurcated state’, in Fatima Diallo and Alhassan Sulemana Anamzoya (eds.), Legal pluralism in African Courts: Actors, Institutions and Governance (working title) (submitted to Brills)

Book chapter

Author(s): Dezalay, Sara
Year of publication: forthcoming

Abstract: Justice has been at the forefront of domestic and international efforts aimed at rebuilding the rule of law in post-conflict Burundi, following the Arusha peace agreement of 2000, which officially put an end to a protracted crisis since 1993. Scholarship focused on the failure of these reforms underlines the impact of political “spoilers” (Rubli 2012; Vandeginste 2010) and the continued gap between “real” law and “formal” law (Kolhagen, 2012). This contribution suggests that it is necessary to explore the role of law and lawyers in the formation of the Burundian state, historically, and in brokering these global legal imports. Two dimensions need in particular to be taken into account: the instrumentalization of law, particularly the judiciary, for political and violent purposes throughout the Belgian mandate and postcolonial history of Burundi; and external dynamics that have continuously impacted on the structure of the judiciary and legal professions. The articulation between lawfare and extraversion in the historical trajectory of Burundi has contributed to what can be described as a pattern of bifurcation of the state through its legal system and judiciary (following Young 1994), throughout three broad phases: the weak investments in lawyers and legal education was correlated with a bifurcation of the legal system under the policy of indirect rule (Mamdani 1996); this colonial legal infrastructure was reinvested in the toolkit of the post-independence successive autocratic military regimes and in waves of violence (regional and ethnicization politics); lastly, the internationally sponsored reforms of the judiciary in the 2000s were rooted in this colonial legacy and military past. These international investments have furthered a legal boom - with the massive growth of the bar and legally-oriented NGOs – highly dependent on external funding, and largely through informal institutions, outside a judiciary that remains locked-in governmental interference.

Keywords: Legal pluralism; African studies; Sociology of legal professions

Research area: Research Area 3: The Plurality of Normative Orders: Competition, Overlapping, Interconnection
Research project:
Subject(s): sociology

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