Taken from a speech given by Professor Muhammad Yunus to mark his appointment to the International Advisory Council of IDLO in May 2016.
Rights mean little if those entitled to them are not aware they exist. Due process is of doubtful value when you are illiterate, or unable to understand the proceedings. Courts are next to worthless for those who cannot afford the bus fare to reach them. Nor should justice be about courts alone. For all these reasons, legal empowerment is crucial. Part of IDLO's bottom-up (or demand side) approach, it involves equipping people with the knowledge, confidence and skills to realize their rights. Even as we work to improve the functioning of justice systems, we strengthen citizens' capacity to press for justice from below.
The rule of law only exists to the extent that it works for all.
Nobel Laureate and pioneer of microcredit, Professor Muhammad Yunus has been appointed to IDLO’s International Advisory Council. Following an event to mark his joining this select body of eminent thought leaders who provide high-level counsel to the organization, Professor Yunus spoke to IDLO.
STATEMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LAW ORGANIZATION
World Humanitarian Summit
May 24, 2016
Delivered by Irene Khan, Director General, IDLO. Video available for viewing below.
Ladies and gentlemen,
While showing steady progress, the formal justice system in Somalia remains fragile. Somalis continue to use traditional dispute resolution (TDR) mechanisms to resolve conflicts in their communities due to their physical accessibility, low cost and legitimacy in the eyes of local participants. The TDR system has the potential to improve access to justice in Somalia, but at the same time informal justice can reinforce forms of discrimination and support practices that do not comply with international human rights standards.
After 20 years of civil war, Somalia remains in the grip of a major human security crisis, with violence and widespread poverty. To address the justice needs of the people of Somalia, particularly members of vulnerable groups, IDLO is working to build the capacity of the private bar to adequately represent clients’ interests and rights in the justice system.
Since Kyrgyzstan's independence in 1991, the country's Judiciary has suffered from financial shortfalls. This resulted in a lack of capacity to improve the quality of decision making and regularly update the level of judges' knowledge of current legislation. One particular area of importance for judicial training is commercial law, crucial for Kyrgyzstan in seeking to reduce corruption and spur economic development.
As in many transition countries, the Kyrgyz judicial system suffers from a low rate of court decision enforcement, with lengthy delays common, and a rate of successful enforcement estimated at only 30%. Moreover, significant challenges exist in relation to prevention and punishment of debtors who hide assets or evade court orders, and a lack of a database where bailiffs can easily obtain necessary information on debtors.
Building on two phases of successful programming to support Montenegro’s EU readiness, IDLO is working to enhance the capacity of its main partner in the country: the Judicial Training Center (JTC). The judiciary is struggling to address disputes arising from foreign investment in real estate and tourism, interpretation of foreign contracts in accordance with international best practice and EU directives.
In Burundi, land tenure registration is the primary way for the government to deal with the large number of land disputes across the country. A series of pilot programs aimed at resolving land rights issues have been initiated in recent years. To date, however, it is unclear whether these pilot programs have had their intended effect of reducing the number of land disputes.
In June 2015, IDLO commenced the project: Researching the Impact of Land Tenure Registration on Land Disputes and Women’s Land Rights in Burundi.
Land Tenure Registration (LTR) programs involve issuing proof of ownership to holders of land rights to increase their legal certainty. Such programs are undertaken for a variety of reasons. While much is known about the impact of LTR on factors like access to credit and agricultural output, there is a gap in knowledge of its impact on land disputes, particularly in post-conflict settings.
Strengthening the Capacities of Women Justice Professionals for Gender-Responsive Justice Delivery and Policy MakingFollowing the Tunisian revolution of 2011, the new Constitution adopted in 2014 aimed to embed the principle of equality between women and men as well as ensuring the State’s obligation to protect women’s rights. However, despite the reforms to the legal framework in Tunisia to increase protection for women against gender-based violence, justice sector professionals, particularly judges and bailiffs, have limited knowledge, skills and capacity to act as effective gender justice agents, as stipulated by the new Law.
Sound legal and policy frameworks are key enablers in ensuring effective prevention, detection, and response to Public Health Emergencies of International Concern and other public health risks. The International Health Regulations, developed in 2005, is a legally binding instrument requiring States to develop core capacities for rapid detection of and response to public health emergencies such as COVID-19.
IDLO is rolling out a program that aims to secure accessible, quality and sustainable justice services for citizens - particularly those living in rural, poor and other disadvantaged communities. The Community Justice Programme (CJP) supports both state and non-state legal aid, legal empowerment and other justice delivery interventions.
In recent years, Jordan has taken steps and demonstrated political will to reform the justice sector and promote mediation and alternative dispute resolution as means not only to reduce court congestion and shorten the litigation process, but also to guarantee transparent and fair trials. Despite the use of mediation for several years, interest in mediation faded, and it is no longer perceived as a reliable mechanism for dispute resolution. There is therefore a strong need to re-establish mediation as an effective dispute resolution mechanism in the country.
Since the revolution in 2011, Tunisia has experienced a period of significant political transition and change culminating in the adoption of a new constitution in 2014, which called for justice reform and protection of women’s rights. However, the practical application of the framework for legal assistance in Tunisia demonstrates the insufficiency of existing relevant mechanisms. Therefore, there is the strong need to empower women to access justice and claim their rights.