Janine Ubink

Janine Ubink has a law degree and a PhD in legal anthropology from Leiden University in the Netherlands. She has worked at the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden Law School from 2001 until 2013, when she moved with her family to South California and joined the University of California Irvine (UCI) Law School. In 2018 she returned to Leiden University where she took up a position as Professor of Law, Governance and Development. She has also taught at the law schools of New York University and Australia National University as well as at the FHR Lim A Po Institute for Social Studies (Paramaribo, Suriname).

Her research focuses on legal pluralism, customary law, traditional authorities, transitional justice, rule of law reforms, gender, and land management, with a regional focus on Africa, particularly Ghana, Namibia, Malawi, Somalia, South Sudan and South Africa. She has published on these subjects in various books and articles in peer-reviewed journals. She is currently involved in a 5-year ‘Just Future’ Consortium, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The programme, a cooperation with Cordaid and development partners in 5 (post-)conflict countries, focuses on access to justice and security.

She is the author of In the land of the chiefs. Customary law, land conflicts, and the role of the state in peri-urban Ghana (Leiden University Press, 2008) and has edited several other books, including Contesting land and custom in Ghana. State, chief, and the citizen (Leiden University Press, 2008) with K.S. Amanor; and Customary Justice: Perspectives on Legal Empowerment (International Development Law Organization, 2011). Recent articles include (with Th. Duda) “Traditional authority in South Africa: Reconstruction and Resistance in the Eastern Cape:, Journal of Southern African Studies 47(2) 2021, 191-208; (with J. Pickering) “Shaping Legal and Institutional Pluralism. Land rights, access to justice and citizenship in South Africa”, South African Journal of Human Rights 36:2-3, 178-199 (with S. Mnisi Weeks) “Courting Custom. Regulating access to justice in rural South Africa and Malawi”, Law & Society Review 51 (4) 2017, 825-858; and “Access v. Justice: Customary courts and political oppression, lessons from Malawi’s Local Courts Act”, American Journal of Comparative Law 2016, 46(3): 745-784.

Janine also works as a consultant in this field, most recently as an advisor to the Ministry of Justice of Somalia. In December of 2015 she became the President of the international Commission on Legal Pluralism.