Mediation and the Neocolonial Legal Order: Access to Justice and Self-Determination in the Phillippines

Eduardo R.C. Capulong, University of Montana School of Law


In this article, the author examines how the process of U.S.-style alternative dispute resolution is unfolding in the Philippines, a former U.S. colony.

Drawing from representative case studies, Part I highlights emerging practices in the global South counter-hegemonic to the fundamentals of U.S.-style mediation.

Part II describes the Philippine community mediation experience, in particular the ideologies, structures, and practices of indigenous dispute resolution, the neighborhood justice system, and court-annexed mediation.

Part III discusses access to justice and self-determination as they relate specifically to community mediation in a postcolonial context.

Using qualitative research the author conducted in the Philippines in 2010, Part IV critiques the implementation of U.S.-style mediation in the Philippines as antithetical to access to justice and self-determination, proposes structural and other practical changes, and theorizes a framework for counter-hegemonic community mediation practice in the neocolonial setting.

The author concludes by arguing that access to justice and self-determination in neocolonial settings requires community practices founded on a substantive normative agenda that collectivizes and socializes conflict, respects and improves upon indigenous dispute-resolution, and recognizes fundamental human rights.