Brazilian National Council of Justice

Semester: 2024 Spring

Students: Manoranjitha Ani and Cosmo Albrecht

The Brazilian National Council of Justice (BNCJ) is a public institution that aims to improve the work of the Judiciary Branch for the benefit of society, through judicial policies and control of administrative and financial activities. Among its goals, BNCJ carries out best practices to modernize and speed up the services of the Judiciary bodies.  

Collective land disputes involve large groups — sometimes hundreds of families and thousands of people — occupying land owned by private entities or the government. Historically, landowners could enforce titles to evict occupants; in practice, defendants in many cases were unaware a lawsuit had been filed or decided until the moment the state appeared on site to forcibly remove them. This process often resulted in violence and mass displacement of individuals. After several prominent forced removals, advocates called for reforms to prevent further human rights abuses.  

In 2021, a Brazilian Supreme Court decision required states to resolve collective land disputes through mediation rather than litigation, inspired by a successful pilot mediation program in Paraná. The BNCJ is tasked with developing and conducting training that would equip judges to mediate these highly complex, multi-party disputes, in which hundreds of occupants face eviction from land legally held by a landowner.  

The BNCJ has engaged the Dispute Systems Design Clinic to continue their work from Fall 2023, and develop mediation training materials for judges to specifically address land disputes involving vulnerable populations in Brazil. These training materials will draw from the one-the-ground data gathered in Paraná last semester; survey results; theory/practice as taught by the Dispute Systems Design Clinic and the Harvard Mediation Program; and other best practices in mediation training programs around the world.  

Students will:  

  • Review primary data (interviews and surveys) gathered by Fall 2023 clinical team for the purposes of crafting case studies and workshop exercises; 
  • Interview experts in the field of mediation, multi-party, conflict coaching, and conciliation training; 
  • Engage Brazilian judges and Commission-members who are either new to, unfamiliar with, or potentially resistant to the work of the Commission;  
  • Engage Brazilian judges and Commission-members outside of the state of Paraná; 
  • Create mediation training materials. 
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