Experience of Alternative Justice

For the past three years, I have headed the Center for Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). I am responsible for mediating conflicts between mining companies and farming communities.

The law must provide society with solutions to conflicts between its members. Civil jurisdiction usually belongs to the State. But today the Peruvian government fails to ensure that civil jurisdiction administers justice in a timely manner and at an affordable price. We frequently see that justice delayed is justice denied.

This has led many to see the need for a system of justice which goes beyond individual entitlement in order to appreciate interlocking needs and interests. Thus, an alternative system has been created which has enabled us to resolve conflicts quickly with positive results for everyone.

In Peru, mining is a main source of income. However, conflicts frequently arise when mining companies try to exploit lands where farmers have lived and worked for centuries. For the past three years, I have been working to resolve these types of conflicts.

At first, it was difficult to find solutions to these tensions. The farmers constantly threatened to block the streets or to occupy the mining lands. The mining companies did not take seriously the needs of the people. This led to violent reactions on both sides.

The main dilemma our Center faced was how to resolve these conflicts, and to find the best solution to the underlying problems. My task was to identify opportunities for mediation.

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