Honouring one another’s rights and agreements is necessary for preventing and resolving conflict. Parties, mediators, and adjudicators all know how difficult this can be when there is no record of those rights and agreements. If rights are not documented and made known to the community in a language that everyone understands, how can we be sure that they will be respected? If agreements are not recorded in writing, what evidence will parties have that the terms of their agreement are violated? Documenting shared social commitments through contracts, registrations, and other records is an important part of maintaining social cohesion. These documents should be recognised by the relevant community and ideally accessible physically or online.
Documenting is important for ensuring that the rights and agreements of individuals are respected and if necessary, enforced. Oral understandings, while recognised and taken seriously in many communities around the world, rely heavily on social trust and the good will of those involved. This can make them more difficult to enforce when one or more parties does not comply with what was agreed.
In addition to helping parties prove when their rights and agreements have been violated, documenting is important for making rights known to others outside of a particular agreement. Without acknowledgement, understanding and buy-in from the surrounding community, individual rights will not be respected or protected. For this reason, it is critical that registrations, contracts, and legal rights be made public.
Putting rights in writing and making these documents accessible to the public or to the parties involved helps ensure that they are honoured, protected, and if necessary, enforced.
Public acknowledgement of property rights, businesses, and arrangements between family members is an important part of sustainable documentation.
Registrations are an important way of documenting and publishing rights, but often come with high implementation costs due to their network effect. In order for registrations to reliably document people’s rights, a majority of transactions in a given community must be registered. This means that the costs of registrations often to do outweigh the benefits a community receives from the registration process overall.