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Johns Hopkins University

Publication Date

Spring 2020

Program Name

Jordan: Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East


Tribal dispute resolution processes in Jordan have played a pivotal role in conflict management and peacemaking since long before the development of the modern state. Since the establishment of the Hashemite monarchy, however, jurisdiction over certain issues has become unclear and inconsistent, especially with regards to blood crimes and honor crimes. Now, as Jordan evolves into an increasingly heterogeneous society, rule of law development must address the need for fair and culturally sensitive legal institutions. Drawing on formal interviews and secondary source literature, this paper investigates the opportunity for legal pluralism in Jordan and consider possible avenues for reform: reconciliation of the tribal law and civil into one formal legal system or a framework for legal pluralism where tribal law complements civil law. I argue that the space for legal pluralism certainly exists insofar as the formal legal system is greatly reformed to ensure popular legitimacy and insofar as tribes evolve to fill a social role. This paper advances modern rule of law theory and suggests that legal pluralism is not an unfinished stage of legal development. Rather, it is a reality in which state and non-state systems are complementary and mutually reinforcing.


Civic and Community Engagement | Civil Law | Development Studies | Law and Society | Legal | Legal Studies | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Near Eastern Languages and Societies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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