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.

Empowering civil society for reform

Civil society in Ukraine is well organized and able to exert considerable influence, especially since the Maidan Revolution. It is widely agreed that targeted support for civil society organizations (CSOs) can amplify the success of reforms that strengthen the rule of law and eliminate corruption. With this is mind, we are working to empower CSOs to monitor and engage with the current reform processes in public administration, rule of law and justice sectors.

Criminal Justice Reform

In Ukraine, as in most eastern European states, the role of the Public Prosecutor is oversized in relation to the Judiciary and the rest of the legal community. The institution is historically prone to abuse of power and corruption, and skewed towards protecting the interests of the state over those of society or the individual. Regard for human rights is scant; fair trial standards are rarely applied. As a consequence, public dissatisfaction is rife. However, current political will to change the system has opened up an opportunity for meaningful reform. 

Mali's 'Justice FM'

Mali’s crisis of 2012-2013, in which two-thirds of the country was occupied by Tuareg rebels and Islamic extremists, was accompanied by brutal rule in the North and a near-collapse of the state. Many victims have yet to see redress for the abuses they suffered; justice remains elusive.

IDLO's Somalia Work Showcased in DC

IDLO Somalia Country Director Adam-Shirwa Jama told a Washington roundtable hosted by the United States Institute of Peace that reform of the justice system had begun in Somalia. While it would take time for justice institutions to reach the whole of the country, Mr. Jama said, IDLO was encouraged by the international support given to these nascent institutions.

Facilitating Peace and Reconciliation in Kyrgyzstan

Following the April 2010 Revolution in the Kyrgyz Republic, an interim government came to power promising to end many of the injustices that had prompted the overthrow of the country’s previous two presidents. Many reforms carried out during the interim period were focused on improving the foundation and application of the rule of law. Despite initial steps made towards progress in this area, the political events of 2010, including ethnic violence, significantly undermined potential progress in the rule of law.

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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. ​
  • 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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