“Women’s participation is not simply ‘the right thing to do’. It can also lead to better justice outcomes and experiences,” stated IDLO’s Director of Programs Erwin van der Borght at the opening of the Regional Symposium of African Women Judges held in Fes, Morocco on October 10, 2019.
While Kenya's economy continues to steadily grow, it remains one of the most unequal countries in the world (ranked 146 out of 188 on the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index in 2016). The country has, since August 2010, been implementing a new Constitution with an expanded Bill of Rights and one of the most ambitious devolution processes anywhere in the world. A large number of functions transferred to 47 newly-created county governments has strengthened accountability and public service delivery at local levels. Looking back on the last seven years, there has been significant progress made over a relatively short period. However, much more still needs to be done to align pre-existing laws with the Constitution and to enact new laws to implement it. Other persistent challenges miring the constitutional implementation process include: corruption, ethnically-based political rivalries, gender inequality, security concerns, and climate change.
Kenya is a Member Party of IDLO, and since 2010 there has been collaboration with the key agencies in the country responsible for the implementation of key provisions of the Constitution, particularly relating to the Bill of Rights, land and environment, devolution, the judiciary, access to justice and representation of the people. A key component of IDLO’s work also relates to advancing gender equality across the country and operationalizing the gender provisions contained in the Constitution.
As countries seek to make progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16, there is growing recognition that it is essential to work with both state and non-state justice systems to strengthen the rule of law and effectively prevent and resolve conflicts.
Legal regulation is an essential tool for governments to promote healthy diets and physical activity to curb non-communicable diseases, IDLO told participants of a conference organized by the Association of Schools of Public Health in Africa (ASPHA) in conjunction with Makerere University’s School of Public Health.
Promoting Healthy Diets and Physical Activity in Kenya
Over 30 paralegals from Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and Uganda as well as various community justice experts convened to advocate for the critical role and contribution that paralegal support networks play in raising legal awareness and supporting access to justice for all, at a regional forum held in Nairobi on July 22-25, 2019.
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.
Meru County in Kenya became the first to adopt a county-level policy on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Approved in April 2019 and launched on June 26, 2019, the Meru County Policy on SGBV aims to close the gap between provisions in national legislation and the lived experience of SGBV survivors.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69, and over 86 per cent of these "premature" deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.The economic impact, including loss of income by people harmed by NCDs, the costs of treatment, and the impacts on families threaten international development. Through regulation and fiscal reforms, countries can promote healthy diets, physical activity, and other initiatives reducing the prevalence and harms of NCDs.
A report outlining major milestones achieved by the judiciary as a result of initiatives and reforms was released in Kenya.
Over 50 women judges, representing chapters of the International Association of Women Judges across the African continent, convened to discuss the critical role and contribution women justice professionals play in adjudicating cases of gender-based violence at a regional conference in Nairobi from November 29 to December 1, 2018.
Promoting Healthy Diets and Physical Activity in Kenya
The drafters of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 saw it necessary to include progressive provisions related to environment and natural resource management. These provisions gave impetus to new laws, policies and other enabling legal instruments at the national and county levels.
The Constitution of Kenya, adopted in 2010, made way for a new governance system composed of a national government and 47 county governments. Most of the assistance provided to the county governments has been focused on technical support. However, there is also a need to support the preparation of quality draft legislation to the county assemblies so that it meets the constitutional requirements.
In 2010, the people of Kenya overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new Constitution, following a protracted struggle for constitutional reform spanning over two decades. Under the new Constitution, the elections of 2013 were the first in Kenya’s multiparty history with Electoral Dispute Resolution (EDR) processes in place. With these mechanisms, disputes can be resolved legally, peacefully and speedily – as opposed to resulting in violence or being allowed to drag through the courts.
Ongoing reform of its energy legal framework has made Kenya a regional leader in promoting policies and laws that encourage sustainable investment in energy development the sector The country, however, still struggles to meet its energy demands. More than 33 million Kenyan citizens live without electricity.Properly harnessing resources, and targeting efforts at making eflectricity more accessible and affordable, would ensure that Kenya’s energy demands were fully and sustainably met.
Climate change is threatening to reverse Kenya’s progress on poverty reduction and exacerbate economic and social inequality. In order to build resilience and outline a low-carbon approach to development, IDLO has assisted the Kenyan Government in drafting a comprehensive National Climate Change Action Plan 2013-2017. This technical assistance included compiling a Legal Preparedness Assessment Report and establishing a Climate Law Working Group, made up of law students from Kenya’s leading universities.
IDLO is working with the Government of Kenya to advance gender equality across the country and enact gender provisions contained in the Constitution. Since 2013, IDLO has partnered to enhance the capacity of the Government of Kenya to mainstream gender at both the national and county levels. IDLO’s support included strategic policy development, critical legislative review, expert technical advice, and institutional strengthening.
While the new Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides for the right of every Kenyan to access justice, its implementation is vital to strengthen and support the changes required for a better Kenya. IDLO is supporting the Kenyan Government to implement the Constitution in an effective, efficient and sustainable manner, in accordance with international standards and best practices. This is being done with a view to enhancing access to justice for Kenyans, especially for women, children and other vulnerable populations.