Taking the Rules of the Game Seriously: Mainstreaming Justice in Development the World Bank’s Justice for the Poor Program

25 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2010

See all articles by Caroline Sage

Caroline Sage

World Bank

Nicholas Menzies

World Bank

Michael Woolcock

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); Harvard University - Kennedy School of Government; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: July 1, 2009

Abstract

This paper explains the ideas and approaches that underpin the World Bank’s Justice for the Poor (J4P) program. J4P is an approach to legal empowerment that focuses on mainstreaming sociolegal concerns into development processes, in sectors ranging from community-driven development and mining technical assistance to labor-rights advocacy and classic judicial reform. It has developed out of a perspective that legal and regulatory frameworks and related justice concerns cannot be conceived of in terms of a “sector” or a specific set of institutions, but are integral to all development processes. Further, while there is broad agreement that justice reform and building an equitable justice sector is central to good governance and sustainable development, there is limited understanding of how equitable justice systems emerge and how such processes can be facilitated by external actors. J4P addresses these knowledge gaps with intensive research aimed at understanding the ways in which development processes shape and are shaped by local context, and in particular, how the poor engage with - and/or are excluded from - the multiple rule systems (“legal pluralism”) governing their everyday lives. Through three case studies of the program’s work, this paper illustrates how understanding the various roles of law in society provides an innovative means of analyzing and responding to particular development problems. The cases also demonstrate the principles that underpin J4P: development is inherently conflict-ridden; institutional reform should be seen as an iterative and thus “interim” process; building local research capacity is critical to establishing an empirically based and context-driven reform process; integrating diverse sources of empirical evidence is needed to deeply engage in local contexts; and rule systems are ubiquitous in all areas of development, not just the “legal sector.”

Keywords: Justice, Access to Justice, Legal Empowerment, Development, Law, Judicial Reform

Suggested Citation

Sage, Caroline and Menzies, Nicholas and Woolcock, Michael, Taking the Rules of the Game Seriously: Mainstreaming Justice in Development the World Bank’s Justice for the Poor Program (July 1, 2009). World Bank Justice & Development Working Paper No. 7/2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1710096 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1710096

Caroline Sage (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Nicholas Menzies

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Michael Woolcock

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Mailstop MC3-306
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-9258 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/mwoolcock

Harvard University - Kennedy School of Government ( email )

Littauer-G-11G
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-0911 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ksgfaculty.harvard.edu/michael_woolcock

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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