Rule of Law & Access to Justice

Rule of Law & Access to JusticePhoto: George Mulula

The legal system can play an important role in supporting poverty eradication by helping poor people to access the appropriate mix of rights and remedies. However, laws that discriminate against, or ignore, the rights and livelihoods of the poor can pose serious obstacles to the eradication of poverty. In such contexts, law and justice sector reforms can provide the foundation for protection and incentives to enable poor people to realize the full value of their human and physical capital.

Reforming the law on paper is not enough to change the reality on the ground. Poor people also need a legal and judicial system that they can access – one that ensures their legal entitlements are practical, enforceable and meaningful. Therefore, efforts to legally empower the poor focus on the underlying incentive structures as well as the capacity of the judiciary and state institutions necessary to make the law work for the poor.

Measures to improve access to justice should focus on developing low-cost justice delivery models, as UNDP will be working on in Uganda with a project that will address several types of land disputes, taking into account the cost of legal services and remedies, the capacity and willingness of the poor to pay for such services, congestion in the court system, the incentives of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies and the efficacy of informal and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.