Institute for Dispute Resolution in Africa (IDRA)

The spirit of IDRA,

The nature and functions of multi-inter-trans-disciplinary research (MIT)

IDRA was established on 1 January 2011 and is located within the College of Law. The Institute is four years old and it is multi-faceted in approach, and multi-dimensional in scope. Although IDRA is administered within the College of Law, its research agenda is not confined to the legal discourse. IDRA is therefore a multi/inter/trans disciplinary institution (MIT).The Institute is transcending the borders of demarcated academic disciplines. The Institute is building bridges for the gaps and dissonance formed/forming by socio-political conditions of our continent’s past century by means of community-engaged research. We are also in conversation with those continent’s to which we are closely related, be it politically, economically or spiritually, and with whom we can share knowledge systems of dispute processing and dispute resolution. Within IDRA there are fledgling projects that are starting anew; and there are projects that are blossoming in depth and breadth.

Our researchers emerge from the following academic and intellectual backgrounds: the legal profession; the legal academy; English literature studies; social work; political sciences; and anthropology. We are ever-communicating with each other and each other’s disciplines both in the corridors that connect our offices as well as in the community spaces where our primary purpose takes shape. We share language, ideas, theory, experience and spirit to create a team of researchers who reflect the diversity of the research institute. We currently have post-doctoral fellows, masters and doctorate students from countries such as the Congo, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and South Africa. The post-doctoral fellows are engaged in field and desktop research to build and evolve the literature in conflict, peace and alternate dispute resolution.

Academic knowledge holders and endogenous knowledge holders are in constant conversation be it to administratively organise workshops or to spend time teaching and learning from each other. We are all teachers and learners in this research context where we value and nurture the potential of endogenous knowledge and endogenous knowledge systems. Endogenous knowledge is a concept that encapsulates a way of knowing that is organic in its formation and rich in its value. The concept transforms into practice when we dedicate ourselves to ‘development through innate resources’. (Crossman and Devisch, 2008)

IDRA’s function is to research global and African knowledge systems that relate to dispute processing and dispute resolution, thus utilizing law as a structural foundation and community knowledge as an empirical foundation. Additionally, endogenous knowledge production is the purpose of the IDRA research. To produce endogenous knowledge is to creatively foster the present by carefully combining traditional ways of knowing with ways of knowing that appear to originate from external sources. These external influences are sometimes entirely domesticated (internalised and made their own) by a community, or the ‘exogenous knowledge’ is considered by a community to be potentially relevant to their life-worlds and thus requires conscientious integration into the structural community fabric. This is why you will notice our projects take significant time to form, as they go through flexible phases of discovery, collation, design and implementation.

Endogenous knowledge is constantly forming in the individual and collective minds of globalised people and so IDRA provides a community platform upon which to transform knowledge into profound action. We call this process ‘capacity-building’.

We are all here to capacitate one and each other. We are here to re-search for the sources of certain social, political and economic disconnects that manifest as conflict. We are here to carefully resolve questions of conflict, to be reflective and responsive… We dedicate our bodies, our minds and our spirits to the necessary resolution of intra and inter-connected conflicts. At IDRA, and in the communities, we dedicate ourselves to the path of healing.

Research agenda

The research agenda is focused on developing a body of knowledge based on humanistic values, such as the values of Ubuntu, which promotes a harmony model of dispute resolution. The research agenda fosters sensitivity to the cultural context of African community spaces, be they local or diasporic. The research agenda strives to serve humanity as a whole.

The following Programmes are central to the Research Agenda

  • African Dispute Resolution: Conceptual Research Programme with the focus on Afrikology for Dispute Resolution as well as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
  • Programme for Electoral Dispute Resolution in Africa with specialisation in Comparative Electoral Dispute Resolution as well as  Electoral Dispute Resolution Reform
  • Legal Justice Reform Programme that interrogates the themes of Criminal Restorative Justice, African Jurisprudence, Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Comprehensive Law,
  • Collaborative Law, Integrative Law, Access to Justice as well as Non-Adversarial Justice
  • The Visionaries for Law and Justice Series


IDRA’s Research Agenda is assisted by a Knowledge Repository comprising an electronic database consisting of journal articles, book chapters, book extracts, research reports as process work, and oral archives consisting of voice and video recordings. This platform aims to support of research for dispute processing and dispute resolution for the African context as well as in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is a concise and functional platform that can be accessed by students and researchers who are interested in the collaborative creations of IDRA and communities. One of the archives is the San Dispute Resolution Oral Archive (SANDROA) and can be found at: 

Last modified: 2023/08/07