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.

Evaluation of the project "Strengthening Linkages Between Formal Justice System and Traditional Dispute Resolution System to Improve Access to Justice - Phase II"

As part of IDLO’s continuous commitment to accountability and results-based management, IDLO is pleased to share this Evaluation Brief for the project, "Strengthening Linkages Between Formal Justice System and Traditional Dispute Resolution System to Improve Access to Justice - Phase II". The evaluation has been conducted by independent evaluation experts, supervised by IDLO’s Evaluation Unit.

Developing an Access to Justice Index in Indonesia

The Government of Indonesia is committed to providing fair, transparent, effective, non-discriminatory and accountable services to promote access to justice for all, including members of vulnerable groups. A national program to safeguard access to justice was included in the National Strategy on Access to Justice 2016-2019. Yet, a national tool to collect data and measure the levels of access to justice for people in the country is still missing.

Strengthening Access to Justice through Legal Aid in Indonesia

In 2011, Indonesia adopted a law on legal aid which includes a national budget for legal aid providers to deliver access to justice and legal aid services to the poor. However, there is a lack of legal aid lawyers and organizations throughout the country, and lawyers do not necessarily have the sufficient skills for delivering legal aid services with a human rights, gender equality and social justice perspective. Many organizations also deal with a limited administrative capacity and struggle to meet the requirements in conducting legal aid reimbursement.

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Key Initiatives

  • Like other countries on the African continent, the Ugandan justice sector faces many challenges. Citizens demonstrate a widespread distrust towards formal justice institutions, which are perceived as corrupt, removed from the communities, expensive and slow to resolve disputes. This lack of confidence in the formal system leads people to resort to other means to seek recourse, and may also increase the likelihood of violence and further corruption.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For over 15 years, IDLO has been assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan develop accessible, accountable, effective and efficient justice sector institutions. While significant progress has been made, many challenges remain, frequently perceived to be rooted in the ongoing conflict, the impact of insecurity and the public’s fear for their safety. There is a strong need to address the concerns and goals of the justice sector and find innovative solutions and methods to strengthen its resilience.
  • Indonesia's Attorney-General’s Office (AGO) has identified differences between its methods for measuring the budget it needs to handle cases and the methods used by other bodies, including the Ministry of Finance, the National Planning and Development Agency and the State Audit Board. If the AGO's initial budget needs are not assessed correctly, this could potentially lead to a misjudgment of its budget allocation, its burn rate and expenditure, and its budget performance.
  • In Indonesia, with its civil law system, many scholars believe that lecturers do not have any obligation to use case law or jurisprudence, including among judges. This causes stagnant development of the law both in practice and theory. Therefore, integrating case law into education will not only be beneficial to both student and lecturer, but also for the judges so they can employ better consideration when making their decisions or verdicts.
  • As a result of the combined military offensive of the Somali National Army and African Union Mission in Somalia with international support, the Al Shabaab extremist group has been significantly degraded and forced into retreat. Al Shabaab’s emergence, and support, particularly among marginalized communities, was and is still to a large extent fueled by both inter and intra-clan conflicts and lack of justice.
  • In April 2018, the Republic of Armenia adopted a new version of the Civil Procedure Code with the aim to expedite cases and increase the efficiency of civil courts. As in most transition countries, implementation of the law by courts and officials is weak and uneven. The judiciary needs to become familiarized with the new Civil Procedure Code and its application within a limited timeframe. Hence, it is critical that judges have a firm grasp of the newly adopted rules, especially related to commercial disputes.
  • Legal reform and institutional capacity building have been priorities for the Government of Mongolia since 2005, when a specific Government Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection was established. However, the Government Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection still has institutional weaknesses and has not always been able to effectively implement changes of the legal framework. ​
  • Somalia constitutes a country of origin, destination, transit, and return for large movements of people across the Horn of Africa. Movement is driven by the intersecting challenges of protracted and persistent conflict, failing systems of governance, and limited employment and livelihood opportunities. More than 2.1 million Somalis live in protracted displacement, with 1.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and an additional 1 million Somalis hosted as refugees in countries in the immediate region.
  • In 2014, the Rule of Law Centres Initiative was launched to increase trust and cooperation between justice providers and the communities they serve. With project offices in Mandalay, Yangon, Myitkyina and Taunggyi, the Rule of Law Centres trained lawyers, law teachers, government officials and civil society representatives on key rule of law and human rights issues and raised awareness of rule of law in communities across the country.
  • While the justice sector in Afghanistan has progressed since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, legal awareness and access to justice throughout the country are still lagging behind. A 2016 World Justice Project report found that only 23 per cent of Afghan citizens used the formal justice system to settle disputes, and less than half reported to have trust in the state courts. As a result, and combined with the pressure of social norms, potential justice users, particularly women, are deterred from using the formal system and are often unable to obtain fair remedies for grievances
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