Rule of Law and Justice

A breakdown in the rule of law and justice system often fuels criminality, impunity and insecurity. For the 1.5 billion people around the world living in places affected by conflict, violence or high levels of crime, re-establishing justice and security following a crisis is critical to enabling development and the elimination of poverty.


In crisis-affected countries, the UNDP-EU partnership works to help countries rapidly restore the rule of law. Re-establishing the rule of law is not only a matter of establishing a formal and reliable framework of legislation and justice. Ultimately it means restoring security and a relationship of trust and confidence between individuals, communities and the State. Therefore, we also support countries in promoting political dialogue and help communities to deal with the legacy of conflict.


Our partnership helps institutions such as courts, justice ministries and the police to become more transparent, accountable and respectful of human rights, giving also vulnerable people – especially women – access to justice and improved security. For example, in Somalia, UNDP’s Governance and Rule of Law programme, which is supported by the EU and other donors, trained 14,000 civilian police officers, including 5,500 in south central Somalia, 5,000 in Somaliland and 1,500 in Puntland.


Mobile courts in Somalia

In Somalia, legal aid is now available outside regional capitals, thanks to the support of UNDP, EU and other partners support in setting up mobile courts, making it much easier for citizens to access justice.

Mobile Courts are valuable for communities outside of the regional capitals that have little or no access to justice due to the lack of courts and lawyers. Without a formal legal system, traditional elders often make decisions on serious criminal cases that adversely affect vulnerable groups such as women, children and minorities.

The mobile courts, which were first established in March 2009 by the Puntland Supreme Court, travel to districts and rural areas, taking on serious cases and providing technical advice to Judicial Staff and Law Enforcement Officials. They are comprised of a judge from the Regional or Appellate Court, prosecutor, a registrar and legal aid lawyer from the UNDP-supported Puntland Legal Aid Center.

In 2011, in Puntland, 1,236 people accessed legal aid services to resolve disputes. In Somaliland the figure was 6,403 and in south central Somalia, 692 people accessed legal services through the mobile courts in 2011.

Our Stories

DRC: Nobody is above the law, not even the military

The atmosphere is tense in Bweremana, Goma, in war-torn North Kivu. A large crowd has gathered outside a tent, serving as an impromptu military court. They wait impatiently for the verdict to be announced. When the announcement finally comes, there are gasps of shock and relief from the crowd. Eight out of the 10 soldiers on trial for raping and murdering local villagers are found guilty. more

More Stories
Publications on Rule of Law and Justice
Rule of Law Global Programme: Annual Report 2011
Rule of Law begins with justice and security | Jordan Ryan

In places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo where women face the constant threat of sexual violence, or in Guatemala where a failure to address the injustices of the past puts reconciliation at risk, the story is the same – a lack of access to justice and security breeds a culture of impunity. In the long term, this can destabilize countries, increase the chances of hostility and hinder the progress toward development goals.


I believe that improving justice and security services; modernizing prosecution mechanisms; increasing the number of available lawyers and judges, and training them to make better decisions; making police more accountable and trustworthy; and providing protection and support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence is vital to support crisis-affected countries and help them become more resilient to violence.

Read article
Instrument for Stability (IfS)

Read more about the EU-UNDP partnership in the framework of the Instrument for Stability, which is a rapid and flexible mechanism at the disposal of the EU to prevent conflict, support post-conflict political stabilization and to ensure early recovery after a natural disaster.

View More