A female police agent helps in controlling the traffic in Al Mina, North Lebanon. Al Mina’s Municipal Police agents benefited from a UNDP supported training that equips them with the necessary skills to control and enforce traffic laws. - © UNDP Lebanon

Institution Building

Issues such as conflict, violence, criminality, corruption and systematic human rights violations disrupt access to effective justice and security and undermine the institutions tasked with upholding the rule of law. UNDP works with justice and security actors in a holistic fashion to support the implementation of justice and functioning security services. UNDP also works with justice and security institutions on long term reform, where working with actors from across the justice profession enables a collective approach to achieving successful institutional reform, and lends legitimacy to a nationally owned system.

Judicial Integrity and Constitutional Support 

Well-functioning and transparent government institutions are vital foundations to allow for a healthy rule of law system. Support to constitution-making processes is a central element of support to the rule of law, as constitutions set out the principles on which a state is based and the institutions and processes through which public power is exercised.  At their best, constitutions commit a state to the rule of law by providing for the supremacy of law, equality before the law, access to justice, and accountability, among other things. UNDP views support to constitution-making processes as not only an integral part of its rule of law programming, but also central to its mission to realize the promise of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals and to prevent violent conflict.

UNDP’s approach to constitution making assistance is underpinned by the recognition of people’s sovereignty. In this regard, UNDP supports national partners to design and implement constitutional processes that are inclusive, participatory and transparent, and based on applicable international norms, standards and good practices, and tailored to the specific country context to ensure the process is nationally owned and led. Support based on these principles is more likely to contribute to the goals of preventing conflict, building peace, and promoting human rights and sustainable human development.  Constitutional support is provided by UNDP in close collaboration with DPPA, DPO, UN Women, OHCHR and other UN and external partners.

In Armenia, through an assessment mission UNDP provided advice to the Ministry of Justice on potential reforms to the justice sector, including on constitutional amendments. Since then the Government of Armenia has formed a Constitutional Review Commission, in part to act on the recommendations of the assessment. A similar assessment mission was conducted in the Maldives, where substantial justice sector reforms have been undertaken. UNDP also provides a range of technical support to constitutional review processes, and in 2019 UNDP provided substantive advice in The Gambia, Somalia and Tuvalu on constitutionalising good governance and the rule of law. In The Gambia, UNDP provided technical advice to the Constitutional Review Commission, National Assembly and Gambian CSOs on various aspects of the reform process, and in Tuvalu advised the parliament on its constitutional review process, which included assistance with amendments to the justice sector and Bill of Rights.

While international instruments set out clear standards for the administration of justice and judicial integrity, many judiciaries also need practical tools to help them identify and address their strengths and weaknesses, while respecting their constitutional independence and maintaining their ownership of the process.  To meet this need, in 2018 UNDP in Asia and the Pacific launched the Judicial Integrity Network in ASEAN with support from INL (US State Department) and the UK Prosperity Fund, bringing together representatives from the judiciaries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and (since 2019) Viet Nam. Through this network UNDP makes available a self-assessment tool, the International Framework on Court Excellence (IFCE), based on seven areas of court excellence representing 11 core values which helps judiciaries to conduct self-assessments. This is done with the assistance of experts from the International Consortium of Court Excellence, who developed the framework and who applied it in their own courts. UNDP supported Malaysia with its self-assessment in 2018, and in 2019 support was provided to Malaysian courts to implement key elements of the Action Plan. Looking ahead, in 2020 UNDP is due to support Thailand in its IFCE assessment, with the potential for other opportunities to introduce the IFCE to other judiciaries.