International Development Law Organization

Legal Reform

To reform laws is to reform societies. At IDLO, this is something that we have had thirty years to learn. And there are no more important laws than fundamental laws – national Constitutions. One of greatest, the Constitution of the United States of America, has served that nation well for nearly a quarter of a millennium. Constitutions encapsulate a vision. In countries struggling to overcome trauma, as is the case of Kenya; struggling to be reborn, as in Somalia; or struggling to be born at all, as in South Sudan, Constitutions respond to a collective need for unity and renewal.

But Constitutions are also highly technical documents. They set the parameters for law and justice in a given jurisdiction. For this reason, they require legal resources and expertise unavailable in many developing nations. By providing those resources and expertise, IDLO is proud to have assisted several countries through complex constitutional processes.

South Sudan: Law in a Fragile State

Today (Friday April 19) marks a milestone in IDLO’s involvement in South Sudan, as the final sixteen-strong class graduates from one of the organization’s most transformative courses. With funding from the US State Department through its law enforcement arm (INL), the training has covered both the fundamentals of common law and what is known as ‘legal English’.

Towards a Constitution for South Sudan

The National Constitutional Review Commission of South Sudan continues to consult with stakeholders and the public on the development of a Permanent Constitution for South Sudan. In the past, IDLO supported the National Constitutional Review Commission by providing technical expertise in particular aspects of the Constitution’s structure and substance. IDLO provided ongoing secretarial support to the coordination of the Commission’s activities.

Constitutional Reform in Somalia

IDLO is working to support the endorsement of Somalia’s Provisional Constitution. In the first half of 2012, we helped produce a comparative analysis of the new draft Constitution, the Constitution of 1960 and the Transitional Federal Charter of 2004, with recommendations for changes where appropriate. The Provisional Constitution was adopted in 2012. The constitution-making process is set to continue until 2016, with the resulting document put to a public referendum.

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Key Initiatives

  • Although Myanmar is a Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children in the country still suffer disproportionate risks of early marriage, sexual exploitation, trafficking, neglect and abuse. In order to address these challenges, in 2019, the parliament passed a new Child Rights Law which covers all aspects of a child’s life, including health, education, juvenile justice, children in armed conflict and alternative care arrangements. However, there is still a need to develop rules to guide the law’s implementation.
  • Corruption is a complex social, political and economic problem which undermines democracy, human rights and governance by weakening state institutions, eroding public confidence and hindering the pathway towards sustainable development. The 2019 Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer found that 80% of citizens of the Bahamas considered corruption in government to be an important issue.
  • 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.
  • 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 recent years, the Kyrgyz Republic has adopted a new Criminal Code and reformed the Criminal Procedure Code with the stated aim to humanize the system of law enforcement in the country. The new Codes were developed by a group of dedicated technical experts that have subsequently supported the development of a training program aimed at building the capacity of all key stakeholders - judges, police, defense lawyers, and prosecutors - on the foundational understanding of the codes.
  • Until recently, court processes in the Kyrgyz Republic have not been automated. Manual or paper systems still are required and are the norm although automating all processes has started very actively. According the country’s National Target Program for Development of the Judiciary, automated information systems need to be expanded and rolled out to the whole judicial system, not only within all first instance courts, but also second and third instance courts.
  • Serbia has recently implemented several judicial reforms to modernize and improve the regulatory framework for mediation, such as the new Law on Mediation in 2014. By implementing the new legal framework on mediation, the number of registered mediators and of mediation cases in Serbia have both increased. However, the Supreme Court of Cassation still registers an excessive amount of backlogged cases.
  • Justice within the context of commercial law is premised on the fact that an effective commercial justice system meets and facilitates the specialized needs of the business community and the private sector at large. However, there are persistent challenges related to the dispensation of commercial justice in Kenya.
  • The Programmatic Framework for the Indonesia-Netherlands Rule of Law Fund builds on Indonesian development plans and continues the efforts of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Jakarta to support the consolidation of the rule of law and reform agenda. The primary objective of the Rule of Law Fund is to support the development of effective, accountable and inclusive justice sector institutions, ensuring equal access to justice in Indonesia.
  • 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. ​
  • Kyrgyzstan’s new Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code are set to enter into force on January 1, 2019, with the aim of improving the system of law enforcement in the country. Specifically, the new Criminal Code seeks to reform criminal law, procedure and types of criminal punishment, promote the integration of the Code into security measures, institute probation, introduce mediation in criminal matters, and support new mechanisms and approaches for the social integration of persons convicted of criminal wrongdoing.
  • Español​ | English: Mexico has made significant efforts to modernize its criminal justice system, specifically regarding public security and strengthening the rule of law. The current justice system, which entered into force in 2016, is based on the presumption of innocence and includes police professionalization as a public policy.
  • It is only 25 years ago that Mali initiated its transition from dictatorship to a more inclusive democracy and a more equal society. In many ways it is, therefore, no great surprise that the country has not been able to either transcend personalised power politics or overcome critical socio-economic cleavages.
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