Janine M. Ubink

Adjunct Professor of Law

Janine M. Ubink's image

Legal pluralism, transitional justice, international human rights law, law and development, international law, legal anthropology, African law, land law and policy


Janine Ubink is President of the Commission on Legal Pluralism. Her research centers around African law and governance, with a primary focus on customary law and its relation to state law; traditional authorities; land law and policy; legal pluralism; transitional justice, gender, and rule of law reforms and legal empowerment. Her regional focus is on Africa, particularly Ghana, Namibia, Malawi, Somalia, and South Africa but she has also been involved in comparative research in Asia and Latin America. Janine has taught at Leiden Law School (Netherlands), NYU School of Law, ANU Law School (Canberra, Australia), FHR Lim A Po Institute for Social Studies (Paramaribo, Suriname) and since 2014 at UCI Law School. She also works as a consultant in this field, most recently as an advisor to the Ministry of Justice of Somalia.

Current Courses:
International Human Rights Law: Law In and After Conflict
Prior Courses:

International Legal Analysis, Transitional Justice, International Human Rights Law: Law in and after Conflict, Law and Governance in Africa, Justice, Law and Development, Comparative Law, Legal Anthropology

Recent Publications

  • Janine Ubink, Customary Legal Empowerment, or How to Engage with Customary Justice Systems, Dev. & Change 2018 (forthcoming)
  • Janine Ubink & Sindiso Mnisi Weeks, Courting Custom:  Regulating Access to Justice in Rural South Africa and Malawi, 51 Law & Soc’y Rev. 825 (2017)
  • Janine Ubink & Anna Rea, Community Justice or Ethnojustice? Engaging with Customary Mechanisms for the Reintegration of Ex-Combatants in Somalia, Uganda and Sierra Leone, 11 Int’l J. Transitional Just.  276 (2017)
  • Janine Ubink, Access v. Justice: Customary Courts and Political Abuse - Lessons from Malawi’s Local Courts Act, 64 Am. J. Comp. L. 745 (2016)
  • E.A. Peters & J.M. Ubink, Restorative and Flexible Customary Procedures and Their Gendered Impact: A Preliminary View on Namibia’s Formalization of Traditional Courts, 47 J. Legal Pluralism & Unofficial L. 291 (2015)
  • Janine Ubink, The Quest for Customary Law in African State Courts, in The Future of African Customary Law 83 (J. Fenrich, P. Galizzi & T. Higgins eds., 2011)
  • Customary Justice: Perspectives on Legal Empowerment (Janine Ubink ed., 2011)
  • Legalising Land Rights: Local Practices, State Responses and Tenure Security in Africa, Asia and Latin America (Janine Ubink, A.H. Hoekema, & W. Assies eds., 2009)
  • Janine M. Ubink, In the Land of the Chiefs: Customary Law, Land Conflicts, and the Role of the State in Peri-Urban Ghana (2008)
  • Janine Ubink, Negotiated or Negated? The Rhetoric and Reality of Customary Tenure in an Ashanti Village in Ghana, 78 Africa 264 (2008)
  • Janine Ubink & Julian F. Quan, How to Combine Tradition and Modernity? Regulating Customary Land Management in Ghana, 25 Land Use Pol'y 198 (2008)
  • Janine Ubink, Tenure Security: Wishful Policy Thinking or Reality? A Case from Peri-Urban Ghana, 51 J. Afr. L. 215 (2007)

Recent and Upcoming Events

  • Aug. 5-8, 2013:
    Co-organiser of the biannual conference of the Commission on Legal Pluralism, jointly with the International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), and presenter of a paper, Manchester
  • Aug. 1-4, 2013:
    Organiser and presenter at the International summer course on legal pluralism, Manchester
  • May 28-31, 2013:
    Keynote speaker at the Property and Citizenship Conference, organised by the University of Kopenhagen
  • Jan. 17-18, 2013:
    Co-convenor and speaker on panel at the annual meeting of the Association for the Socio-Scientific Study of Law (VSR)
  • Jan. 14-15, 2013:
    Speaker at the Gender and Land Conference, organized by the University of Utrecht and LandAcademy, Utrecht
  • Aug. 10, 2012:
    Invited presentation on human rights and customary law at UNPO Speak Out! 2012 Conference, The Hague
  • June 6-8, 2012:
    Conference paper at Conference CAS@50, annual international conference of the Centre for African Studies of the University of Edinburgh
  • June 6, 2012:
    Invited speaker at the Hague Peace Palace Library Lecture. Introduction to the movie “justice for sale” (Ilse and Femke van Velzen), The Hague
  • May 24, 2012:
    Invited speaker at conference “Transforming Post-Conflict Societies: Everyday Violence and access to Justice,” organized by the Transformative Justice Network of World Universities Network (WUN), London

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