How We Work

  • Access to Legal Aid 
    Support to legal aid forms a key component of many UNDP access to justice and rule of law programmes. Often a means of strengthening capacities of rights holders, legal aid programmes seek to legally empower poor and marginalized groups to access remedies for their grievances and overcome many of the obstacles preventing them from accessing justice. We supports over 55 countries across the globe in strengthening access to legal aid services for poor and marginalized groups, including through legal awareness and legal aid clinics and public outreach campaigns, support to the development or reform of national polices and frameworks on legal aid, and capacity building of state and non-state actors to deliver legal aid services in civil, criminal and family matters. In order to further contribute to the global knowledge base on legal aid, UNDP, in partnership with UNODC and others, launched a Global Study on Legal Aid, to gather data on the current state of access to legal aid services worldwide.

    In December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, which UNDP is working at the global, regional and national levels to further implementation. UNDP supports knowledge exchange and develops policy guidance to support improved programming. Recent guidance on legal aid includes the UNDP Legal Aid in Africa Programming Guide (forthcoming) and the UNDP-UNODC Handbook on Early Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems. Additionally, in partnership with the Government of South Africa, Legal Aid South Africa, the International Legal Foundation, UNODC, as well as the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Universities of Pretoria and Witwatersrand, UNDP supported the International Conference on Legal Aid  in Johannesburg in June 2014. The conference which included over 250 participants from over 65 countries resulted in the Johannesburg Declaration on the Implementation of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems; which calls on States, legal aid service providers and the international community to promote access to legal aid services and concludes with a call for the inclusion of access of justice and rule of law, including a specific target on equal access to legal aid, within the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. For more on this event, see our article on Development and legal experts call for increased provision of legal aid for the poor
  • Accelerating access to justice for all
    A key step is to translate international normative frameworks into domestic legislation and practice. With national partners, UNDP facilitates national processes of designing and implementing comprehensive rule of law and justice reform programmes. This work often requires significant reform, especially after conflict or in transition to more pluralistic governance. UNDP helps partners to create overarching visions and strategies that ensure all the links in the justice chain are included, so that reform measures are not ad-hoc but catalytic and self-reinforcing. Every context is unique and requires its own tailor-made solutions.
  • The UNDP Legal Empowerment Initiative
    This initiative aims to expand poor peoples' access to legal and institutional mechanisms that can help to break the cycle of exclusion and poverty. It promotes a holistic development approach to support a wide range of national, regional and global efforts. Building on the key recommendations of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, this initiative focuses on livelihood and economic rights and emphasizes access to justice as a pre-condition for the realization of these rights. Cross-cutting the democratic governance practice, the approach places the legislative process in a central role, in addition to public services such as the civil registry and legal identity, land titling and business licenses.
  • Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) and the Bureau for Development Policy (BDP)
    In UNDP, the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) and the Bureau for Development Policy (BDP) jointly work with Country Offices to deliver on rule of law, security and access to justice programming in all development situations. BCPR engages on rule of law, justice and security as a means to prevent conflict, to ensure protection during ongoing conflicts and to support post-conflict recovery and peace building. BDP supports programming for access to justice, public security and legal empowerment in challenging but more stable contexts to expand people's options and choices to advance human development.
  • Asia-Pacific Rights and Justice Initiative (AP-A2J)
    The Asia-Pacific Rights and Justice Initiative (AP-A2J) complements UNDP's activities on Access to Justice in Asia Pacific by providing practitioners with ameans to share knowledge and lessons learned from the region. The initiative explores and conceptualizes the links and synergies between access to justice andhuman rights, focusing particularly on the goals of equality and non-discrimination. It also emphasizes access to justice for disadvantaged groups.