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Stimulating compliance

In a best case scenario complying is made easy and attractive, so parties will feel that it is a better option than not complying.

What challenges does it focus on?

Have parties comply with outcomes

Short summary

When complying is made easy and attractive, parties will feel that it is a better option than not complying. Compliance can also be stimulated by making clear that not doing what is agreed or decided will have consequences. Facilitators use the following practices to improve compliance. At the stage of reaching an outcome, you can:

  • Organize quick wins. Start compliance as soon as possible. For instance, a first small payment made immediately. Doing something the next day. So the first impression is that the agreement/decision works
  • Make sure that the parties have participated in finding the solutions (see: Finding possible solutions and Focusing on future relationships).If they feel ownership over the outcome they are more likely to comply.
  • Make clear in the agreement how progress is monitored. How will non-compliance be reported?
  • Take a monitoring role in the process of compliance. For instance by letting payments go through you. Make clear that you will follow up and ask whether the agreement works (after 1 month, after 6 months)
  • Schedule follow up meetings (if possible, involve influential people or other authorities in this)
  • If there are concerns about compliance already, discuss what will happen when there is no compliance? Will it then be allowed to involve the police, somebody else? Should a fine be paid?
  • Support the agreement with cultural symbols which stress the importance: an oath, declaration to comply, a ritual or a celebration to mark the end of the conflict. This can maybe done by influential people or other authorities.
  • Have the written agreement signed by parties and witnesses such as influential people or other authorities
  • Congratulate the parties. Invite them to celebrate
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 If there is no compliance, you can:

  • Address the party who is not complying: What happened? What were impediments? When and what can be expected?
  • If there is an unclear situation, address this issue using the same process and tools as for the dispute. But make sure that the agreement or decision is the starting point. Invite the parties to improve on this. So that it works better.
  • Make clear that non compliance or a new conflict about this cannot be accepted as an outcome.
  • Point to the fact that non-compliance can be made public in the community.
  • Ask influential people to ask the other party to comply.
  • Set up a network of partners across the country to enable follow up when one party moves.

The following questions may be useful in encouraging compliance: Encouraging Compliance

Research evidence

Evidence from practice

Making the conflict public: Online traders that use Ebay will have their conflict and reputation exposed on the internet if they refuse to take part in conflict resolution or comply to an agreement. Letting parties find their own solution: Facilitators in the refugee camps in North Thailand and at the commune disputes resolution commitees in Cambodia stress the need for parties to find their own solution. Follow up: Facilitators that we've met in Egypt, Cambodia and Rwanda have reported that a follow up with both parties is highly effective for compliance. Involving Authority: Indonesian facilitators related to KBH Lampung use village heads, the lowest form of government authority, as witnesses to agreements. They also sometimes ask the village head to draft the agreement based on the parties decisions. This involvement of authority helps stimulate the parties to agree. Use of Witnesses: In Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mali and Egypt, facilitators that we have met reported that they use witnesses to help ensure compliance with agreements. If witnesses see the parties sign the agreement, it is harder for the parties to back out later as many people in the community will know that they have gone back on a promise. A celebration: After the two disputing parties come to an agreement of paying and accepting the compensation, the mediator (Krak Shrok) will ask all involved in the conflict resolution, as well as other villagers, to join in a party celebrating the end of the dispute.

Brao Ethnicity: Documentation of Customary Rules. UNDP, Cambodia 2010



Evidence from handbooks

Carrying out follow-up visits to the parties helps ensure that the agreement is stuck to, and provides an early opportunity for conflicts which are arising to be tackled.
The Paralegal Practice Manual – The Legal Aid Forum, Rwanda
Handbook mediation - UNDP Cambodia 2009




Evidence from literature

When parties reach an agreement themselves with support through mediation there is a higher change on volutarily compliance.
De daad bij het woord. Het naleven van rechterlijke uitspraken en schikkingsafspraken. E.J.J. Eshuis, WODC 2009


People's willingness to defer to legal authorities is shaped by two social motivations: procedural justice and motive-based trust.
Tyler and Huo, Trust in Law, 2001


There is some evidence that a lack of a good motivation of a decision may have a an negative impact on compliance.
Legal empowerment and customary law in Rwanda: report of a pilot project concerning community level dispute resolution and women's land rights, Muriel Veldman and Marco Lankhorst International Development Law Organization 2011


Compliance factors are identified from literature including: Strength of supporters of the agreement; Exploration of the problem; monitoring and feedback mechanisms; Familiarity with agreement and level of agreement.

Gurses, A. P. M., J. A.; Ozok, A. A.; Xiao, Y.; Owens, S.; Pronovost, P. J. (2010). "Using an interdisciplinary approach to identify factors that afffect clinicians' compliance with evidence-based guidelines." Critical Care Medicine 38 (Supplement, Infection Control in the Intensive Care Unit): s282-s291.


Enforcement agencies increasingly use disclosure as a regulatory instrument to promote compliance and govern societal risks: data about companies are disclosed to expose their level of compliance. This innovative instrument, called the 'pillory', differs from traditional instruments such as financial incentives ('the carrot'), legal sanctions ('the stick') and government communication ('the sermon'). The 'pillory' aims to inform and activate the stakeholder environments of companies and, in so doing, encourage them to push for better compliance. Disclosure affects the behavior of 'small offenders', who care about their reputations, more than that of 'large offenders', who only react to harsh measures


Disclosure and compliance: The 'pillory' as an innovative regulatory instrument. A J. Meijer, V. Homburg Information Polity - Innovation and ICT in Public Policy - papers from the European Group for Public Administration Conference 2008

Best practices