Improving Access to Justice in Developing and Post-Conflict Countries: Practical Examples from the Field
Jessica Vapnek, Peter Boaz, & Helga Turku, Improving Access to Justice in Developing and Post-Conflict Countries: Practical Examples from the Field, 8 Duke Forum for Law & Social Change 27-44, 2016
18 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2017
Date Written: December 31, 2016
Accessible, fair, and efficient justice systems are key to effective governance and the rule of law. Without access to justice, people – especially the poor and disenfranchised – are unable to realize their rights, challenge discrimination, or hold decision-makers accountable. As a necessary precondition for both justice and security, therefore, the rule of law is key to sustainable development. For this reason, access to justice recently assumed its rightful place in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The purpose of many rule-of-law assistance projects is to help make justice systems accessible and worthy of public confidence. This article reviews several donor-funded rule-of-law projects implemented in various parts of the world, offering some empirical insights into how they build trust in the judicial system and facilitate access to courts. Because international donors are in a unique position to shape planned interventions to improve access to justice and the rule of law, they need access to information about initiatives undertaken and lessons learned. This article is intended to share experiences implementing access-to-justice activities in developing countries and countries in transition. We first define the rule of law and access to justice; we then profile projects implemented around the world that use various methods to build public trust in the judicial system; and finally we review different strategies, from the complex to the straightforward, that have been implemented to remove barriers to accessing the judicial system. It is our view that the rule-of-law projects examined here demonstrate ways to provide robust and long-lasting positive effects on people’s lives.
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