International Development Law Organization

Legal Empowerment

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.

Strengthening the link between formal justice and traditional dispute resolution

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.

Enhancing Sustainability of Judicial Training in Kyrgyzstan

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.

Strengthening Court Decision Enforcement

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. 

Strengthening Capacity of the Judicial Training Center (JTC) in Montenegro

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. 

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Key Initiatives

  • Following 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Alternative dispute resolution, and in particular mediation, is finally gaining momentum in Tajikistan. Previous attempt to introduce law on mediation in Tajikistan have not been successful and consequently there is currently no formal legal framework for mediation. In the first phase of the project, the International Development Law Organization worked to promote commercial mediation and build momentum for its expansion. However, there is still the need to provide assistance to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mediation Center and improve its effectiveness.
  • Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.
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