logo Commission on Legal Pluralism

About us & our Objectives

The Commission on Folk Law and Legal Pluralism -as it was originally called- was established in 1978 by the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), and affiliated with the International Association of Legal Science (IALS), on the initiative of professor G. van den Steenhoven, of the Institute of Folk Law, Nijmegen University, the Netherlands.

By September 2017 more than 350 lawyers, anthropologists and other social scientists, representing all regions of the world and concerned with legal pluralism in both theory and practice, were participants in the activities of the Commission. The growth of the Commission reflects a growing awareness of the contemporary existence of legal plurality, not only in countries with indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, but also in the industrialised societies as such.

The Commission on Legal Pluralism furthers knowledge and understanding of legal pluralism, with a focus upon theoretical and practical problems resulting from the interaction of different types of law, such as state law, international and transnational law, religious law, and customary law. It provides a meeting ground for the concerns of social and legal sciences in the study of law in society and the resulting power relations, and in the resolution of social problems.

Among its main activities are the organization of international symposia; the initiation and encouragement of Regional Working Groups in different parts of the world; the organization and delivery of courses and summer schools on legal pluralism; and the publication of the Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law (JLP- thrice every year)

The Commission's first scientific symposium was held in Bellagio, Italy, in 1981 on the theme "State Institutions and their Use of Folk Law". The second, on "The Actual and Legal Position of Ethnic and Cultural Minorities", took place in Vancouver, in 1983. Two symposia were held in 1986: in Tutzing, Bavaria, Germany, on "Formal and Informal Social Security", and in Sydney, on "Folk Law and Indigenous Rights - A Comparative Perspective". Since 1986, a long series of symposia were held in Zagreb (Yugoslavia, 1988), in Ottawa (Canada, 1990), in Amsterdam (Netherlands, 1991), in Wellington (New Zealand, 1992), Mexico City (Mexico, 1993), Accra (Ghana, 1995), Moscow (Russia, 1997), Williamsburg (U.S.A. 1998), Arica (Chile, 2000), Chiang Mai (Thailand, 2002), Fredericton (Canada, 2004), Jakarta (Indonesia, 2006), Zurich (Switzerland, 2009), Cape Town (South Africa 2011), Manchester (UK, 2013). The most recent congress took place in Mumbai, India in 2015.

Membership is open to anyone with a serious and substantial scholarly or practical commitment to or involvement in the field of legal pluralism. Those interested in joining are invited to register as a member at Groupspaces at http://groupspaces.com/CLP/join/ or contact the Executive Secretary Dr. Carolien Jacobs: c.i.m.jacobs@law.leidenuniv.nl



Call for papers: 9th International Conference on Culture and International Law

The Center for International Law Studies (CILS) Faculty of Law, Universitas Indonesia in collaboration with Faculty of Law Brawijaya University are pleased to announce the 9th CILS International Conference on Culture and International Law. The Conference will be located at the Faculty of Law, Brawijaya University, Malang, Indonesia on 2-3 October 2018. We invite all legal scholars and professionals from within and outside Indonesia to submit abstracts and paper over current developments and legal issues in international law within the scope of the current theme.

Should you have further inquiries, please contact Ms. Anbar Jayadi and Ms. Dita Liliansa at cilsconference@ui.ac.id.

Global South Writing Workshops

The Centre for Law and Global Justice, Cardiff University, is running a series of writing workshops with partners in the global south, and with UK socio-legal journals and the British Academy. The workshops are being run as mentoring, learning and advice sessions for scholars interested in developing and publishing socio-legal work. Workshops will be held in autumn 2018 in Accra, Nairobi, Bangalore and Recife. More details can be found here.

In Memoriam Gordon Woodman (1937-2017)

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Gordon Woodman who was one of the founding fathers of the Commission on Legal Pluralism and its Journal. Keebet von Benda-Beckmann and Ulrike Wanitzek wrote an In Memoriam for him which is now published in the Journal of Legal Pluralism. You can download it through this link. Gordon will be missed dearly.

In Memoriam John Griffiths (1940-2017)

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of John Griffiths. John developed his interest in sociology of law in the early 1970s and he started teaching this subject in 1973 at New York University. He moved to the University of Groningen in 1976, were he was appointed Professor in 1977. Until his retirement in 2015 he lived and worked in Groningen. He was one of the founding fathers of the Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law and will be remembered for his contribution in early debates about the content and scope of the concept of legal pluralism. John will be missed by his many former-colleagues, graduate students and friends.