Our Perspective

      • Time to integrate traditional and formal justice | Olav Kjørven

        26 Sep 2012

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        Women take an active part at a village meeting in India.Photo: Sephi Bergerson/ UNDP India

        In some developing countries, informal or traditional justice systems resolve up to 80 percent of disputes, over everything from cattle to contracts, dowries to divorce. Disproportionately, these mechanisms affect women and children. A new report, commissioned by UNDP, UNICEF, and UN Women and produced by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, provides the most comprehensive UN study on this complex area of justice to date. It draws conclusions based on research in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Malawi, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, and 12 other developing countries. These systems, it concludes, are a reality of justice in most of the countries where UNDP works to improve lives and livelihoods and government capacities to serve. The evidence illustrates the direct bearing such systems can have on women and children’s legal empowerment, covering issues from customary marriage and divorce to custody, inheritance, and property rights. It’s time to engage squarely with customary justice systems and integrate them into broader development initiatives aimed at guaranteeing human rights and access to justice for all. These systems are often far more accessible than formal mechanisms and may have the potential to provide quick, inexpensive, and culturally relevant remedies. But traditional development models have for years paid them little Read More

      • Every day in every country – should be and can be a day without violence | Helen Clark

        21 Sep 2012

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        International Day of Peace

        More than half a million people die violently every year - in armed conflicts; from criminal activity; and from violent attacks in their own homes. An estimated 1.5 billion plus people live in countries affected by war, violence, and/or high levels of crime. The absence of peace exacts a terrible toll. Armed conflict terrifies communities and makes development progress very difficult. Deep inequalities may be reflected in levels of violence – and will be exacerbated by it. For example, women and girls, who suffer discrimination in many places, are disproportionately affected by armed conflict. War increases their economic and social vulnerability. Yet it is possible to tackle these challenges decisively, and UNDP sees progress being made in a number of countries in which we work. For example: ·    This year El Salvador recorded its first murder-free day in over three years. Murders there have fallen by an average of 12 per cent since the introduction of gun-free zones; ·   Liberia is on the road to recovery from  many years of civil war, 2013 will mark a decade of peace there; and ·   In Angola, an arms amnesty led to the surrender of more than 76,000 illegal weapons. These examples all show that Read More

      • Democracy is in the hands of youth | Heba El-Kholy

        15 Sep 2012

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        The quality of democratic process is increasingly questioned, as witnessed by youth rebellions in scores of countries, demanding better democratic governance. Democracy needs to be renewed, revitalized and reaffirmed as a continuous social and political process to ensure equal political participation of people in governance, irrespective of gender, cast, race and creed.  Democracy is more than a system of government and free and fair elections. Democracy works when all people can claim their rights, fulfill their responsibilities as active citizens and demand accountability from the government.  There is indeed a new awakening and new aspiration for better democracy and democratic governance. But young people must be given real opportunities and space to play a prominent role in this awakening. Almost 85 percent of young people live in developing countries—60 percent of them in Asia. In 2015, the population aged 15-24 years in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reach 200 million. Democracy Education, the theme of this years’ democracy day, is about educating, enabling and empowering people to internalize the core values of dignity, justice and freedom and to become responsible citizens to make democratic governance work. The quality of democracy in the coming years will be shaped by the quality of Read More

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