Alternative Dispute Resolution

People are opting to employ alternative avenues of justice such as the Gacacafor used following the Rwandan Genocide. In Haiti, there is the Chamber of Conciliation and Arbitration of Haiti.

In Dallas, Texas, The Islamic Tribunal aims to resolve conflicts and disputes according to the principles of Islamic Law in a manner that is reasonable and cost effective, taking on serious family problems, divorces,  and business disputes among some of the cases.  Options such as this are rare in the United States, but they are growing in access. The Tribunal seeks to support and guidance from consultants and counselors to its attorneys to ensure that local, state and federal law are strictly conformed to, and decisions that originate from the Tribunal are by said laws. IT offers free legal consultations.

And similar alternatives are available and have been for a long time, for other faith-based dispute resolutions such as Christian mediation.

The following links are taken from  lead to the Institute for Christian Conciliation (ICC), a division of Peacemaker® Ministries, to explain Christian conciliation and court-tested conciliation clauses in more detail:


Questions arise concerning the legality of these methods, and whether an impartial application of justice is being applied. Are women being treated subjectively, as is usually assumed of religious teachings?  Would children be submitted to reasoning of parents? What about cases of rape, incest, or child molestation? Are the perpetrators and victims receiving justice? Can criminal charges legally be addressed in these alternative methods?

Answers to these questions vary but ADR for criminal matters is growing in demand with a majority of programs  “identifying themselves as victim-offender mediation programs.”

Carryn Wolfe in her article for Fordham Law Review shares the following:

It is undeniable that ADR is often faster and cheaper than litigation. Congress in 1925 passed the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), establishing that a written agreement of arbitration “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” Then the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws drafted the Uniform Arbitration Act (UAA) in 1955, and the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (RUAA) in 2000 which are currently in place.

Persons may feel obligated to use faith-based alternative dispute resolutions out of conviction. For example, according to “halakhah”, followers of Judaism may hold that they are not allowed to turn to secular courts. The decision to not use secular courts is also found in Christian and Islamic faith. Turning to religious ADR may lead to the preservation of minority cultures and community values but could come at the cost of what modern society has come to understand as justice. This begs the question of whether justice is to be sought for the victim or for the victim and society at large.










Caryn Litt Wolfe, Faith-Based Arbitration: Friend or Foe? An Evaluation of Religious Arbitration Systems and Their Interaction with Secular Courts, 75 Fordham L. Rev. 427 (2006). Available at:



The Time to Act is Now: Drone Delivery Systems in Haiti and Lessons from the Developing World

In light of recent discussions over the cholera epidemic and a pending class action law suit against the U.N. for “bringing cholera to Haiti,” this necessitates a discussion of preventative measures. More specifically, the use of drones in healthcare, and how they could have helped to lessen the blow dealt to the people of Haiti, almost 10,000 – but likely more – that have died due to the cholera epidemic since 2010.

According to the BBC, drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”), are often “used in situations where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult.” More generally, these agents have been used more frequently in combat offensives, often to target specific individuals with deadly fire or for the purpose of gaining intelligence on opposition forces. Commercially, drones have also caught the eye of companies like Amazon and Uber that have shown interest in using drone technology.

In the healthcare context, drones might be considered an untapped resource. This, however, is being addressed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (“UNICEF”) and the Malawi government to help streamline the often slow wait times and lack of medical supplies necessary to conduct HIV testing. Similarly, another African nation, Rwanda, has a similar program meant to remedy the issues with getting medical supplies to remote areas where infrastructure is not fully developed. Furthermore, the costs associated with drone delivery are relatively low; “[t]he UN agency is spending up to $1.5-million (U.S.) annually on the delivery of HIV blood samples in Malawi. The drones, by contrast, cost only a few thousand dollars each, and operating costs are low because they are battery-powered.”

Looking back to Haiti and the cholera epidemic, seemingly the moment to act is now. A program that uses drone technology to diagnose and ship medical supplies to the ill will be no doubt a large improvement to the status quo. Many areas of Haiti still are considered remote. More specifically, many roads leading out of the capital are not developed, making travel to a medical facility often an arduous task. For example, some healthcare practitioners state that:

Drones are likely to enhance healthcare delivery in developing countries and remote or impoverished areas of the U.S. While drones may not drop packages at the entrances of Chicago high-rises, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have delivered supplies to earthquake victims in Haiti and to places like Papua New Guinea.  Mayo Clinic predicts increased use of drones to transport blood products and drugs in response to mass casualty incidents and critical access hospital needs. Consider the benefits of drone-delivered defibrillators, organs, medications and medical supplies.

Thus, though the use of drones might bring up issues in the future regarding patient privacy, in the short-term,  there is hope that drone delivery systems could be instrumental in saving lives.


Magdala is a second-year law student at the University of Illinois College of Law. She is the first generation of her family to be born in the United States!