Access to Justice and Rule of Law

The poor and marginalized are too often denied the ability to seek remedies in a fair justice system. UNDP promotes effective, responsive, accessible and fair justice systems as a pillar of democratic governance.

In the absence of access to justice, people are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination or hold decision-makers accountable. Rule of law is the foundation for both justice and security.

Together, rule of law, access to justice and legal empowerment contribute to an enabling environment for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They can spur economic growth and help to create a safe and secure environment for recovery in the aftermath of conflict or disaster.

UNDP recognizes the complexities in pluralistic legal landscapes and strives to ensure that support programmes include different justice approaches and systems based on a bottom-up approach, with due consideration to the normative framework guiding the work and engagement of the United Nations.

UNDP works with national partners to:

  • Develop national strategic plans and programmes for justice reform and service delivery
  • Support justice needs and capacity assessments to analyze demand and supply for services, creating a baseline for monitoring and evaluation
  • Empower the poor and marginalized to seek response and remedies for injustice
  • Improve legal protection, legal awareness, legal aid and counsel, adjudication, enforcement, and civil society and parliamentary oversight
  • Respond to immediate justice needs including the protection of women's rights and access to legal services
  • Address grave challenges in the justice sector such as police brutality, inhumane prison conditions, lengthy pre-trial detention, and impunity for perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence
  • Strengthen linkages between formal and informal structures

According to the United Nations Secretary-General (A/59/2005), "The protection and promotion of the universal values of the rule of law, human rights and democracy are ends in themselves. They are also essential for a world of justice, opportunity and stability."