ACE-AJ aims within the next two years to become the foremost VOICE FOR AFRICAN COMMUNITY JUSTICE INSTITUTIONS. In this regard, the following programmatic focus defines ACE-AJ’s entry points in expanding, legitimizing and sustaining such a voice for African Community Justice Institutions.

The overall focus of ACE-AJ programme is to create information sharing mechanisms and enhanced coordination on issues of Community Justice among the different stakeholders within access to justice, including governments, judges, legal profession, national and other human rights institutions, African regional organizations, International organizations, donor institutions, the media, research institutes, private sector, CSOs and High Net-worth Individuals. Additionally, the program shall seek to capacitate CJI institutions, academicians, African policy-makers and the general public through knowledge and skills enhancement and mobilize them to engage in the ongoing efforts to strengthen the value-added of CJI and other indigenous and home-grown justice institutions at the regional, national and local levels.

Four key interventions under this program are:

  1. Support in addressing weakening of the CJI space/Institutions and the Relationship between State and Non-State Actors in the field of Community Justice:

The potential for public sector investment in CJI far surpasses that of presently unpredictable development aid. Consequently, the link between CJI and other access to justice service providers, especially the judiciary and legal profession is critical to understanding new strategic issues in African development. Domestic resources –if utilized prudently-enable the leveraging of African agency and resources for pro-poor development catalyzed by a participatory, inclusive and holistic conception of access to justice.  Such participatory, Inclusive and holistic access to justice must have several mutually reinforcing elements such as: legal recognition, public revenue investment, enabling environment, continuous capacity development, effective documentation a, research and record-keeping, development of an alternative jurisprudence of complementary justice, modernization and preservation of progressive African values and restorative justice, employment creation, and social cohesion. Only African networks like ACE-AJ can effectively access governments and hold them accountable to their people in the field of CJI and complementary justice policy and practice.

  1. Engaging governments, justice sector stakeholders, companies, the “new rich” and middle class in Africa for them to contribute towards CJI.

African governments have justice sector budgets and the choice not to invest in CJI is one based out of ignorance or weak understanding. The “new rich” or emerging African middle class is endowed with so many resources, including powerful influence in the economy, policy and governance spheres. This influence is and will shape our futures. Africa’s “new rich” are not engaged in organized Community Justice and generally lack a sense of social purpose, history and vision.  ACE-AJ proposes to put in place processes, programmes and projects to reach out to and engage this untapped resource.

  1. Enhancing Social Capital.

Sustainable human development presumes the existence of social cohesion between and amongst different role players in our society, including civil society, faith-based institutions, traditional leaders, and businesses. ACE-AJ will-in its programming- seek to link various sectors and agencies to create the social capital necessary for the pace and scale of development that can propel Africa into a new era of inclusive growth and equity. African Community Justice Institutions is both a process and an outcome in relationship building within communities and across class, gender and generational interests. It is a means of becoming, of being and belonging to a society that shares a collective responsibility for its own upliftment first and the upliftment of others generally.

  1. Institutionalizing a Broad Development and access to justice Approach:

Scholars and practitioners alike, agree that African Development needs to focus on the big picture by addressing both the demand side of development (what groups of poor people need in basic and social services) and the supply side (inputs that are needed to generate those goods and services).  These also require skilled engagement in policy issues, negotiation of interests and integration of possibilities.  As part of its repertoire of programmes ACE-AJ will seek to build local capacity to address demand and supply side constraints whilst meeting the developmental needs of African citizens. Capacity development presumes the existence of an ideal legal and operational environment that facilitates the work of non-State actors in development. In many African countries, the operational environment for civil society and the business sector are highly inhibitive. The transaction costs are disproportionately high, the registration requirements long, tedious and frustrating for community foundations. There are also very few countries with clear policies on indigenous Community Justice, let alone incentives for regular giving. Capacity development, therefore, inevitably has to cover four inter-related broad areas, namely: organizational development for CJI institutions; communication and fundraising; leadership and management as well as advocacy and movement building.