Quasi‐Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Israel's Darfuri Refugees

Published date01 September 2017
AuthorDoron Pely
Date01 September 2017
C R Q, vol. 35, no. 1, Fall 2017 111
© 2017 Association for Confl ict Resolution and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) • DOI: 10.1002/crq.21198
Quasi-Customary Dispute Resolution
Mechanisms in Israel s Darfuri Refugees
Doron Pely
About 3,500 Darfuri male (and a few female) asylum seekers live in
Israel.  e majority are 25 to 40 years old. Older men, including vil-
lage and community dignitaries, stand little chance of surviving the
brutal trek.
In Darfur, where most inhabitants live in small villages, inter- and
intracommunal confl icts are traditionally resolved through the custom-
ary justice process of Judiya . But in Israel, Darfuri asylum seekers no
longer reside with their kin groups (villages, tribes, clans); instead they
often cohabit with asylum seekers from other tribes, clans, and vil-
lages, living in crowded conditions, mostly in the poor south side of Tel
Aviv—a situation that gives rise to multiple small confl icts.
In the absence of their familiar tribal structure, dignitaries, and other
interveners, the refugees have no access to the traditional dispute reso-
lution mechanisms they have grown up with. Furthermore, these asy-
lum seekers avoid bringing their confl icts to the attention of the Israeli
authorities, for fear of endangering their asylum petitions.  e result is
that this community fi nds itself trying to cope with diffi cult, intracom-
munal, confl ict-rich conditions, without being able to use either tradi-
tional confl ict resolution mechanisms or local formal justice processes.
e response of the Darfuri asylum seekers community to this cir-
cumstance has been to develop their own multitier, quasi-customary
intracommunal dispute resolution mechanism.  is new mechanism
combines elements of their traditional, Darfur-based processes, along
112 PELY
C R Q • DOI: 10.1002/crq
with newly constructed modifi cations designed to compensate for the
missing elements (e.g., lack of village elders) and make use of available
resources (e.g., young community activists).
is article employs analysis of multiple interviews and review of rel-
evant literature to identify and describe the unique, informal dis-
pute resolution mechanism that the Darfuri community developed
in Israel.
Insights developed in this article may help community activists, munic-
ipalities, policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, and other
individuals and organizations in understanding and facilitating alter-
native dispute resolution mechanisms within similarly structured and
similarly aff ected displaced persons and asylum seeker communities
around the world.
U pon arriving in their new country of residence, immigrants, asylum
seekers, and refugees often encounter a culture that is unlike the one
they were used to back home. As they strive to normalize their lives, fi nd
work, educate their children, tend to health issues, and do other “regular”
activities, the newcomers must navigate a social and economic landscape
that is mostly alien to them.  ere is a signifi cant amount of literature
exploring such experiences, though much of it focuses on economic or
labor aspects or on derivative policies of the adoptive states (Algan, Bisin,
and Verdier 2012 ; Bauer, Lofstrom, and Zimmermann 2000 ; de Palo,
Faini, and Venturini 2006 ).
One aspect of life that is not left behind when individuals and/or popu-
lations move away from their indigenous locations is confl ict. Confl icts
seem to crop up and demand attention and management, regardless of
immigrants’ and asylum seekers’ new locations or conditions.
In the absence of the familiar confl ict management mechanisms they
grew up with back home and with scant familiarity or confi dence in local
dispute resolution mechanisms, asylum seekers often fi nd themselves bereft
of proper confl ict management infrastructure.

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