This article argues that the potential contribution of customary justice systems to the realisation of human rights has been under-investigated, under-acknowledged and under-utilised, primarily due to historical and lingering colonial attitudes within the international community. The article focuses on the example of child protection in Papua New Guinea, a country where customary justice is the only accessible form of justice for the vast majority of the population. Some of the article’s recommendations may also be applicable in other societies. The article examines potential reasons for the reluctance of the international community to recognise and support customary justice systems in the implementation of human rights. The article argues that the application of customary justice constitutes a cultural right, and potentially offers some superior human rights practices from which the international community could learn and benefit.
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