UNDP TALKS! Access to Justice for Human Development: Experiences from the Asia-Pacific
19 March 2014, Thimphu: The third of a series of on-going discussions under the umbrella UNDP Talks: Dialogues on Development was held on “Access to Justice” at the UN House today. Organized and led by UNDP Bhutan, Nicholas Booth, Policy Advisor from the Asia Pacific Regional Centre in Bangkok presented UNDP’s vast experiences with other countries on access to justice.
UNDP’s Nicholas Booth said, “Access to justice is about helping countries achieve simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion.” He presented many examples from the region on how access to justice impacts economic livelihoods, the environment, women, and vulnerable groups like people with disabilities and good governance.
He also illustrated UNDP’s new approach to access to justice ensures the voices of the most vulnerable and excluded groups, people who are distanced from their rights and livelihoods are all heard during the drafting of legal processes. Adding, “It’s all about taking a good law and making sure that people who need to use it actually become aware of their rights and know that the law is working for them.”
The Director of the Bhutan National Legal Institute (BNLI), Pema Wangchuk shared Bhutan’s scenario, “BNLI’s experience with rural communities is communicating that access to justice is more than going to court and getting a verdict from the judge. It is about empowering people to know and practice their legal rights.” He added UNDP has been partnering with BNLI for a long time and hopes the partnership will thrive.
Discussions also took place in considering the support advisable for Bhutan where legal services are very low for people, the literacy level and access to information due to geographical reasons.
The Access to Justice dialogue saw a full house participation from Bhutan’s legal institutions like the BNLI, High Court and the Office of the Attorney General, development partners and people from the Thimphu community.