Journal Article

Courts and the poor in Malawi: Economic marginalization, vulnerability, and the law

Siri Gloppen and Fidelis Edge Kanyongolo

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 5, issue 2, pages 258-293
Published in print April 2007 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online April 2007 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icon/mom002
Courts and the poor in Malawi: Economic marginalization, vulnerability, and the law

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Malawi's democratic Constitution of 1994 shifted the law in a pro-poor direction. With the judiciary emerging as a surprisingly strong institution in an otherwise weak political system, one might expect a body of pro-poor jurisprudence to develop. This has not been the case, and this article investigates why. After considering patterns of poverty and the role of law in the dynamics of economic marginalization in Malawi, we examine factors assumed to influence the use of courts by the economically marginalized, the strength of their legal voice, and the response of the courts to poor people's social rights claims. We find an interplay between factors impeding the demand for pro-poor justice as well as its supply: lack of litigation resources; high access barriers; the pull of alternative institutions; and the nature of Malawi's legal culture.

Journal Article.  15718 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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