International Development Law Organization

Highlights 2013: Introduction



IDLO enables governments and empowers people to reform laws and strengthen institutions to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity. We contribute to creating stable and inclusive societies where every person can live free from fear and want, in dignity and under the rule of law.

The rule of law is about substantive justice as well as procedural fairness. It embodies the universal principles of human rights and good governance, of equality before the law and impartiality of the judiciary. It provides an essential and enabling framework for peace, stability, social development and economic opportunity. IDLO is committed to strengthening all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.

IDLO has extensive experience in countries emerging from conflict or striving towards democracy, as well as emerging economies and middle-income countries. We work with governments and civil society - especially the legal community - to help build responsive legal institutions, enhance people's access to justice and rights, and find innovative solutions to development problems.

USUN Ambassador,
IDLO President


This has been an important year for IDLO : from improved financial stability to the launch of its largestever program – which supports Afghanistan's justice sector – to the opening of a new liaison office in Geneva and a new Branch Office in The Hague.

These are just a few specific accomplishments that IDLO rightfully highlights in 2013.

It is through our memberships and support of IDLO that we can tackle our shared challenges. Inequality persists, especially where the rule of law has no hold. As Director-General Irene Khan mentioned in her address to the United Nations General Assembly, this is a moment for honesty.

We realize that we cannot fight poverty, combat disease, or preserve the environment without proper rule of law. It is a cross-cutting issue that must be promoted and improved throughout the world. Without proper laws, populations cannot access health care or achieve even minimum levels of nutrition. People cannot feel safe in their communities without consistent and transparent enforcement of fair laws. Individuals must be free to create and invent and have the products of their imagination protected and rewarded. This is not possible without a robust intellectual property system. Therefore, ensuring a functional and fair legal system is an essential part of any sustainable development model. The rule of law is absolutely vital in fighting discrimination and essential to the legal empowerment of citizens. This is because institutions work best when citizens can hold them accountable.

Another concept that the rule of law enforces is that of transparency. Transparency is a cure to corruption, and promoting transparent legal systems is one of the key challenges in the overall development agenda. Once this is achieved, people will be confident in their community's judicial systems.

We are all proud members of the only International Organization devoted solely to enhancing the rule of law – to "creating a culture of justice", as the four-year Strategic Plan that we endorsed last year says so well.

IDLO has many successful programs that promote peace-building, access to justice and sustainable development.

In Afghanistan, the U.S. State Department is proud to sponsor IDLO 's on-the-ground engagement, which has resulted in the establishment of gender prosecution units to reduce gender-based violence.

It is encouraging to see the strong support for rule of law in the post-2015 agenda. We look forward to working with IDLO to ensure that the rule of law is appropriately understood as an integral component of the development agenda and to help IDLO establish and strengthen the rule of law around the world. After extensive engagement with IDLO this past year, I am confident that wherever IDLO goes, the rule of law stands a better chance of succeeding.


IDLO Director-General


Global trends increasingly tell us that without the rule of law, there is little peace, security, human rights or development. The past year has presented IDLO with many opportunities to contribute to a safer, fairer, more sustainable world.

2013 was marked by significant growth in IDLO 's programs, its profile, and its political and financial support. Positioning ourselves as a thought leader as well as a provider of capacity development and technical legal assistance, we focused on three areas: building effective institutions; enhancing access to justice; and using legal innovation to promote sustainable development.

Our largest programs in 2013 continued to be in countries emerging from conflict or moving towards democracy. Supporting transition processes means building institutions and encouraging constitutional and legal reforms amid fragile security and against heavy odds.

We stepped up our engagement in Afghanistan dramatically, training thousands of judges and legal professionals and building the capacity of local institutions to take over this responsibility in 2015. In Kyrgyzstan we focused on the independence and integrity of the judiciary. In Somalia, in line with the trajectory of political progress, we moved from supporting constitution-drafting to institutionbuilding. In South Sudan we made good progress in helping the judiciary transition from an Arabic legal system to English common law. The outbreak of conflict at the end of the year and numerous human rights violations were a regrettable setback for the respect of rule of law in South Sudan.

One of our key achievements in 2013 was in Kenya, where we contributed to peaceful democratic transition by helping the judiciary develop its skills on electoral dispute resolution.

Working with partners and stakeholders in Latin America, we developed strategies and programs to expand legal aid, rights awareness and other services for women, poor and marginalized communities and vulnerable populations.

Drawing on our expertise on human rights and health, we brought lawyers, health professionals and human rights activists together to fight discrimination and ensure access to medical care for people living with HIV in a number of countries in the Middle East and Latin America.

Our research and policy advocacy drew attention to the deficiencies in the quality of justice for women and girls in formal and informal justice systems, and advocated change through legal empowerment. Our largest program on legal aid and gender justice in 2013 was in Afghanistan. We also launched a new program to support gender mainstreaming in Kenyan institutions.

We used our legal knowledge to promote growth with equity and sustainability. Combining expertise on international laws and treaties with local knowledge, we organized multistakeholder consultations to design innovative solutions for sustainable forestry, climate change, green economy and biodiversity in several countries in Africa and Latin America.

Drawing upon our field experience, we contributed actively to global discussions shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda, urging the international community to underpin the new goals and targets with a commitment to the rule of law and human rights.

The expansion of our programs and activities was matched in 2013 by internal reforms to strengthen our capacity, efficiency and effectiveness. Thanks to these reforms and the generous response of our donors, we are now on a firm financial footing. I want to acknowledge in particular the multi-year contribution from the Government of the Netherlands. This has enabled us to open a Branch Office in The Hague to house our research and program development, and to link up with the many resources available in the 'City of Peace and Justice.'

I am very grateful for the trust and confidence of IDLO 's Member Parties, donors, partners and supporters, and for the hard work of my colleagues around the world and at Headquarters in Rome, who made last year's significant achievements possible.

IDLO Highlights Report 2013 Download (PDF, 2.6MB)