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In Panama, land deeds help farmers protect forests

Melquiades Jaén, a farmer in the Capira district of Panama, has spent 45 years living and working on his 130 hectares: cultivating the land, taking care of it, grazing cattle there. But has hasn’t been able to hold in his own hands the title deeds for his farm – until now. The Capira district west o more

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Uganda: Women's collectives fight for land rights, against corruption

In 2003, Joyce Nangobi was about to lose her home. In Jinja, Uganda, the land that she lived on was going to be put up for sale to low-wage manufacturing companies, leaving Joyce and the other residents out in the cold.  The women in her town had neither the resources to purchase the land, nor more

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Greater electoral transparency and participation in Sao Tome & Principe

This year, citizens of Sao Tome and Principe must go to the polls to exercise their right to vote and elect representatives to the National Assembly. The National Electoral Commission is responsible for establishing electoral rolls and providing a card to those who do not have one yet, have lost it more

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Colombia participates in the peace process

Uffyunu, a Wayuu indigenous woman, has witnessed two massacres in her life, when paramilitary groups invaded her village, killed dozens of people and left hundreds without a home in 2001 and 2004. "It was terrible," says Uffyunu, who lives with her 5-year-old son in the southern part of La more

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In Somaliland, local communities benefit from decentralization

For Fosia Ahmed Ismail, a returnee to the Somaliland district of Hargeisa, life was hard. Many basic services were inadequately delivered, and access to authorities was limited and sometimes even unthinkable. “The local government resettled us here,” said Fosia. But infrastructure in local district more

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Through village courts,
justice for all in Bangladesh

When Jahanara Begum’s sons stole mangoes from a neighbour’s garden, what should have been a petty incident of children’s mischief escalated into a violent confrontation between Jahanara and her neighbour. Angry at Jahanara, her neighbour assaulted her and injured her eye, which then required expensi more

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Guatemala: Laying a mother to rest after 31 years

In Guatemala, UNDP is helping some of the family members of more than 45,000 victims of the country’s “disappeared” to finally find out what happened to their loved ones. The murmur of chanting and the smell of incense fill the air in a small house in Rabinal, about 50 km from Guatemala City. A May more

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Mobile courts bring justice to rural Pakistan

In a remote village in the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, court is in session. The stenographer is typing away, the judge is listening intently and the air conditioner strains to keep the room cool as two property dealers from Hayatabad argue over US $6,000. But this is no ordinary courtroom. This more

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In Gaza, first female mukhtarah mediates legal disputes

Um Mohammed broke the conservative tribal traditions of her community when she became one of Gaza strip’s first “Mukhtarah” – the female equivalent of Mukhtar, one who peacefully settles disputes without need to resort to formal judicial systems. “I once found myself having to intervene to resolve a more

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Property rights and legal aid: Making life a little easier in Ukraine

Ivan Kalyta’s pension only allows him to buy his medication and basic food, and pay his utility bill. So when the time came to repair his house, he decided to sell two plots of his land to raise money. But when he tried to register his land, he realized the administrative fees for obtaining the nece more

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Timor-Leste: Convictions boost state justice system

Sitting on the verandah of his home, Camilio dos Santos, the chief of the village of Galitas in East Timor reflects on how conflicts used to be resolved in Timor-Leste. “Before independence we relied only on traditional justice to resolve any disputes in communities. It is good that now we have our more

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Guaranteeing equal protection to vulnerable communities in Iraq

Laila, a mother of two, was physically abused for years by her husband, and even forced to seek treatment for injuries on a number of occasions. The 28-year-old did not want to denounce her husband to the authorities out of fear he would take away or hurt their children. In cooperation with the Kur more

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In Pakistan, women work to strengthen democracy

Zameer Akhtar, 28, is participating in the electoral process for the very first time. Being a woman and living in a joint family in Pakistan, getting consent from her elders for her decision wasn’t simple at first. But she felt compelled to take part in election training due to lack of public confid more

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Afghanistan: Bringing the police closer to the people

Farza, Kabul Province—Colonel Noor Aqa Ibrahimkhail, the district Chief of Police for Farza, located 45 kilometres north of Kabul, is a veteran officer who has experienced many brushes with violence and unrest throughout his career. But compared to his previous postings, he says, Farza is a haven of more

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Legal aid helps vulnerable in Darfur protect their rights

In the small town of Garssila in Central Darfur, 13-year-old Aisha had her childhood cut short when she was brutally raped by a man while on the way to the market. Unfortunately, Aisha’s case is not an isolated one. As law enforcement agencies in Darfur have insufficient resources and incentives to more

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In Montenegro, legal aid services make justice accessible for all

A.S.,* a middle-aged housewife and mother of two in Montenegro, was divorced and on her own. For three years, she received no support from her ex-husband and lacked the means to raise her children. But through a new legal aid program Montenegro rolled out in 2011, she was able to access legal aid, a more

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Legal Aid Clinics in Gaza help people get protection of the law

Asma*  lived in Jabalia Camp in the Gaza Strip where she attempted to raise a family whilst trapped within a violent marriage. Aggression and attacks were part of her daily life; bruises and physical scars a recurring reminder of her predicament. Her husband often prevented Asma from seeing her more

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Young indigenous and disabled people gear up for election in Cambodia

When local elections were held in the province of Mondulkiri, eastern Cambodia, Bunthoeun Tola, a 20-year-old indigenous person and first-time voter, was turned away at the polling station because his name on the voter list did not match with his identification card. “It was spelled incorrectly and more

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Nigeria: A boost for women's participation in politics

For Anthonia Bashorun and millions of other Nigerian women, taking part in elective politics is not easy. Women often do not receive the support and mentoring they need to compete with their male counterparts. In turn, many voters do not fully appreciate the benefits of having a mix of men and women more

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Georgia: Building a culture of informed voters

As October’s parliamentary elections near in Georgia, 18-year old Alex Shatberashvili wants his first vote to be educated and informed. "I feel responsible for my vote and want to have a clear picture before I make a decision,” said Alex. However, news coverage and reporting is often unbalanced more

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Paralegals bring justice to women in South Sudan

In a young democracy like South Sudan, most disputes are still resolved through traditional, customary structures and institutions. Alice Adye witnessed how breakdowns within state institutions, including police as well as statutory and customary courts, undermined and victimized women in rural area more

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Vulnerable people get free legal aid in Ethiopia

Abebe Ayalew, who is blind, couldn’t afford a lawyer to represent him when a dispute arose over inheritance of his father’s house in September 2011, so he turned to a UNDP-supported Free Legal Aid Centre for help. “I came to this Legal Aid Centre and Andualem, a lawyer and instructor in Hawassa Univ more

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Kenya: Preparing women for leadership

As Kenya prepares for the general election in March 2013, UNDP is equipping women with critical skills to help them run for office. Women remain underrepresented in political leadership positions in Kenya despite Constitutional quotas, with women’s political representation standing at 9.8 percent ve more

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Lao PDR: Revamped market creates brighter future for local vendors

Soutsady, a 48-year-old mother of six who prefers to be addressed by her first name, has always depended on her meagre income from selling fried bananas at Khangkhai village market in the central Lao PDR province of Xiengkhouang. But the small, poorly-equipped community market did not provide enoug more

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Libya's historic elections: Youth activists pave way for future role

When Ayman Ramdan, a student at the University of Tripoli in Libya, left his home early on 28 June, he had a long day ahead of him. With just over a week before the country’s first free multi-party elections in six decades, he was joining 15 other student activists for the Open Day to Encourage Elec more

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Building a sustainable democracy in Libya

A year ago, Khadija Baba would not have considered engaging in any independent civil society or political activities in her home town of Tripoli. Not only was such activity forbidden under the former regime in Libya, but it would have likely landed the university student in prison. Now, with support more

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Local governance paves way for poverty reduction in Lao PDR

The rainy season used to mean a loss of revenue for Timchai, a farmer in the southern Lao province of Saravene. Rainfall during this five-month period would often make the road running from her village to the nearest market impassible, causing her produce to rot before she had an opportunity to sell more

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Local governance in Rwanda

Murengerantwari Syldio is a farmer in Rwanda’s Rulindo district. Until recently, had no way of selling his crops because poor roads restricted his access to neighbouring districts.  Fortunately, however, a United Nations (UN) initiative, supported in part by the United Nations Development Prog more

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More than 50,000 Timorese finally land property rights

Teresa de Jesus clutched her land papers and gave a shy grin. The 60-year old woman from Liquica, an hour east of the capital Dili, was one of 16 landowners who earlier this month received the first land certificates ever issued in independent Timor-Leste. “I’m very happy,” she said.  “And I wa more

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Croatia: Witness support offices help to deliver justice

By Sunčica Pleština Vukovar, Croatia – “As an employee of a retail chain, to my greatest regret, I was the witness of an armed robbery. It was an extremely traumatic experience that forced me to change my job,” writes M. K., who requested anonymity in her letter to the President of the Vukovar Court more

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Indonesia: Fighting for Social Justice

Three years ago, Indonesian housewife Ibu Odah had little knowledge of legal affairs. Now, the mother of two is at the forefront of a legal fight against domestic violence in the remote island of Ternate, in the North Moluccas province of Indonesia. With the knowledge and expertise that she has acqu more

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New bridge improves links, livelihoods for Cambodian villages

When 26-year-old So Phorn gave birth to her first child three years ago it took her two strenuous hours on a motorbike, a ferry and a rickshaw to get to the nearest health centre in the neighbouring commune of Beoung Preav, in south-western Cambodia. Following completion six months ago of a joint in more

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Cambodian councils cooperate to provide community with school

Several years ago, Soy Pheap, a 39 year-old mother of seven, was forced to make a tough decision; send her daughter away, or forfeit the young girl’s education. Until recently, Pheap’s village, part of the Tuol Pongro commune in Banteay Meanchey Province in northwest Cambodia, lacked an adequate sec more

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Riding a radio wave in Lao PDR

At sunset in the village of Houay Jaek, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a group of villagers are performing a dialogue about the importance of good hygiene. Recording their voices is 30 year-old Khamboun, a fellow villager and volunteer with the local Khoun Community Radio station. Khoun Radio was more

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Women play major role in building Liberia's peace

Nearly 1.7 million Liberians, almost half of them women, had a chance to vote in the October 11th elections in 2011, the first organized nationally since the end of the country’s civil conflict in 2003. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) worked with UN and other partners to support Libe more

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