Lawyer Project Launched to Strengthen the Role of Lawyers in Advancing Rule of Law and Access to Justice of Lao PDR
April 3, 2023
Vientiane, 3 April 2023 - Lawyers play an essential role in strengthening access to justice and the rule of law. They help build public trust in the legal system, foster the protection of people’s rights, and contribute to an appealing political environment for inclusive socio-economic development that leaves no one behind. Yet, Lao PDR counts less than 400 accredited lawyers to respond to the needs of the people which prompts the need for more lawyers and enhanced capacities.
On the 3rd of April 2023, various government representatives, development partners, UN agencies, law firms, and civil society organizations working on the rule of law attended the launch of the Lawyer Project in Vientiane Capital. This project is funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and will be implemented for three years under the management of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in close partnership with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Lao Bar Association (LBA).
The project aims to strengthen the rule of law with a threefold focus based on the metaphor of the Head, the Heart, and the Hands. The first priority of the Head refers to the need for the LBA to strengthen its capacity for strategic visioning and continuous professional development. Mr. Voratsamy Soulipaphanh, the President of the Lao Bar Association, reiterated the importance of this by pointing out the benefit of having a strategy that fits the institutional realities in Lao PDR and the existing capacities of the LBA.
The Heart refers to the aspiration of empowering not only the LBA but also the lawyers themselves by fostering a network of leading lawyers that are committed to professionalism and high ethical standards. By leveraging mentoring, peer learning, and provincial hubs, the lawyers are empowered to strengthen professionalism from within the community.
Lastly, the metaphor of the hand refers to the need to deliver practical tools for learning and professional development. Mr. Ketsana Phommachanh, the Vice Minister of Justice, echoed this point by emphasizing the importance of assistance that is of practical value and can support lawyers in a tangible way.
Ms. Catherine Phuong, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP, furthermore, emphasized the importance of this project for the wider socio-economic development: “Lawyers help foster stability, enhance accountability, and contribute to a society that is governed by the rule of law in which everybody can enjoy access to justice. Supporting lawyers, therefore, is of critical importance to the inclusive and comprehensive development of Lao PDR.”
In recognition of gender as a cross-cutting issue, gender equality will be promoted within all activities through a gender-sensitive approach that fosters the leadership of female lawyers and raises awareness about important issues, such as women’s rights and gender-based violence. Moreover, a decentralized approach will be leveraged to make sure the project can impact lawyers and their clients across the country. Mr. William Solley, Director of INL, echoed this point by emphasizing the importance of generating a sustainable impact through activities that can be continued by the LBA and the lawyers after the finalization of the project.
This project is only one intervention that feeds into wider efforts by the government, development partners, and civil society to foster the rule of law. Already this year, a strategy for the LBA will be co-developed and launched, a network of committed lawyers will be established and engaged on various priorities, and the development of a programme for continuous learning will be initiated. These are just some initial steps that will be built upon in 2024 and 2025 to ensure a structural change that can generate a sustainable impact beyond the project itself.
Should you need more information, please contact:
Ms. Thipphasone Luangaphay,
UNDP Project Coordinator,
email@example.com or 020 5583 6000.
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