Peacekeepers secured the circle of Koro, in Mali’s Mopti region, which allowed for activities to be conducted including on sensitization and education sessions on social cohesion and human rights. - © MINUSMA/Gema Cortes

Regional Highlights

UNDP’s Global Programme supports crisis-affected contexts across all regions to strengthen the rule of law and human rights. In this section, we provide a short regional overview, detailing our priorities and approach depending on the context, as well as feature select country and territory results from 2019.




In the last ten years across Africa, human development has made noteworthy progress with 72% of the Africans in 34 countries having experienced significant improvements in institutional, political and economic governance. Sustained peace and inclusive government are on the increase, with continued hope for peaceful transition to democracy, human rights, good governance and rule of law. However, it is not time to be complacent with challenges remaining due to historical, political and economic factors, including horizontal inequality, land tenure, natural resource competition, migration, violent extremism, and exclusionary politics. While in recent years violence as a result of conflict has plateaued, fatalities attributed to terrorism, transnational crime, violent extremism and governance failures have increased. These fatalities have been notable in the Sahel, Central Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Lake Chad Basin, where violent conflicts quickly become regional crises that decimate communities, reverse development and deter investment. In 2019, Sub-Saharan Africa was the most affected region in the world by conflict displacement with 4.6 million new displacements recorded, accounting for nearly 54% of the global total. The Sahel region faces an increasingly alarming security situation with near-daily attacks by terrorist groups on security forces, and as states struggle to protect civilians, a growing number of militias have emerged, aggravating the situation further.

Despite these challenges, the region possesses opportunities to trigger economic transformation based on human capital, abundance of natural resources and improvement in regional trade. These opportunities, associated with political transformations in several countries across the region, have provided the potential for engagement on a number of reforms on sensitive issues including governance, human rights and rule of law. The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index for 2019, indicates that most Sub-Saharan countries have either maintained their position or climbed up the rankings. 

In this context, in 2019, UNDP developed a new strategic offer in Africa that will support its people, its governments and its institutions as they seek to consolidate recent gains and effectively address the challenges that remain. This new offer focuses on six strategic impact areas including peace and security, which evolves around PVE, borderlands, regional approaches, rule of law and gender, and youth and peacebuilding. UNDP leveraged key regional actors and partnerships with OHCHR, UNODC and UN Women under the Global Focal Point for Rule of Law arrangement, such as the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions in coordination with OHCHR, to promote the protection of human rights. UNDP also worked with the Lake Chad Basin Commission to support the development of its regional strategy on the screening, prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of Boko Haram associated individuals, as well as the integrated development of the Liptako-Gourma Authority to support the stabilization strategies in the tri-border region of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, and with the African Union to support the African Young Women Leaders Fellowship programme.

Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, UNDP focused on supporting security governance which led the national authorities to develop a National Security Policy via a consultative, inclusive and holistic process. This process started with the establishment of a commission tasked with the elaboration of the Policy, the new security architecture, and the coordination mechanism, for the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation phase of the security sector reform (SSR). To compliment this process, UNDP supported the launch of a civil society platform on SSR and governance which consulted over one-thousand people across the thirteen regions, in order to gain input on the requirements of security services at the community level, which was subsequently reported to the commission.  A focus on justice at the community level continued with UNDP’s support of legal aid for 126 defendants in criminal cases before the Bobo-Diolasso Court of Appeals. 

Once again capacity building, training and the pursuit of Gender Justice, are key components of UNDP’s programme in Burkina Faso. As a result of its initiatives, over 200 law enforcement personnel were trained on anti-corruption and a number of civil society members were trained on the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. In the Sahel and the North administrative regions of the country, UNDP supported mediation and conflict analysis initiatives, specifically capacity building for 150 youth organizations in conflict resolution skills and raising awareness of people from the two regions on the distinctions between state and non-state judicial structures. 

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to place an emphasis on achieving social cohesion throughout the country, and specifically the northern regions, as well as maintaining a focus on security sector governance and reform and inclusive security institutions, with the objective of achieving a sustainable security sector as a keystone to long lasting peace.


In Cameroon, UNDP has focussed on stabilization and reintegration. Within the framework of the Integrated Regional Stabilisation of the Lake Chad Basin (Phase II) funded by Germany, UNDP has emphasised human rights and the rule of law in its support of the formulation of the Lake Chad Basin Commission’s (LCBC) regional strategy on the screening, prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration (SPRR) of Boko Haram associated individuals. UNDP also provides support to the LCBC on the harmonisation of a reconciliation and reintegration policy framework.

In partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs, and civil society and non-governmental organizations, UNDP has developed initiatives that assist the reintegration of former Boko Haram associates back into their communities or in to host communities. These initiatives include community workshops and discussion groups, reconciliation dialogue sessions, and critical community infrastructure work, such as road repairs, renovations, and water supply investment. In complimentary fashion, UNDP conducted four studies in support of reintegration efforts which focused on former Boko Haram associates within communities, former hostages located in the Zamay camp, profiling of vigilance committee members, and on the general perception of reconciliation in affected areas.

Looking forward, UNDP seeks to build on the progress made in the area of SPRR and connect this to broader efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Cameroon, specifically by developing a robust programme which focuses on strengthening the penal chain, access to justice for the most vulnerable, and transitional justice as a prerequisite for reintegration activities, so as to ensure that in combination with stabilization efforts, communities seize the opportunity to reflect on the root causes of conflict and seek sustainable solutions.


Côte d’Ivoire

In Côte d’Ivoire, UNDP has focused on supporting the NHRI in order to assist its vital work in protecting and promoting human rights. As a result of UNDP’s involvement, the ministerial committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of international legal instruments and standards has resumed its work. The process for submitting Côte d’Ivoire’s third UPR report was assisted, and the report was submitted to the Human Rights Council in May. 

Capacity development featured as an integral part of UNDP’s focus on human rights, through training for over one hundred members of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) on protecting the interests and wellbeing of individuals submitting claims of human rights violations. Important trainings also took place on criminal procedure, with the purpose to educate members of the judiciary and police involved in the process, on recent legislation designed to improve protections for individuals in the criminal process. In total 250 personnel received training.

UNDP has also supported the transitional justice process, through a broad range of community reparation initiatives primarily benefiting women and youth, with the purpose of strengthening social cohesion and consolidating peace in local communities. 

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to imbed human rights as a key component to achieving sustainable development in Côte d’Ivoire, both at the community and the institutional levels, and thus continue to imbed human rights as a key component to achieving sustainable development.


UNDP is supporting community security and access to justice initiatives for host communities and refugees in the Gambella region in Ethiopia. Free legal aid centres were established in five districts, in coordination with two local universities, the regional supreme court and the regional attorney general’s office. In addition, UNDP supported mobile courts to increase their efficiency in delivering services to host communities and refugees in cooperation with the government, regional and zonal high and district court judges, as well as police officers. This included on-time case processing as well as measures to reduce the backlog of cases based on a review of good practices of the use of mobile courts.

In 2019, UNDP also worked with local communities, refugees and the police to support community policing initiatives. A two-week training was developed for 265 members of the community on community policing techniques. Participants included local police officers, local leaders, elders, religious leaders and women’s association representatives – including from refugee camps. Following the training, local peace committees were established to serve as community watch groups that work on community peace building, crime prevention and responses.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to work on addressing rule of law and community security issues affecting displaced populations and host communities in the Gambella region, while also supporting the broader governance and rule of law reforms process in Ethiopia.


The Gambia

In The Gambia, UNDP is applying a cohesive approach to strengthening the rule of law. In partnership with the Ministry of Justice, UNDP supported the development of a sector wide national Rule of Law roadmap, aligned with The Gambia’s NDP, to establish more robust coordination between all justice institutions. This roadmap is designed to identify shared objectives and outputs, in order to align focus and results between institutions, thereby improving government coordination while also appealing to donors.

Access to justice remains a core focus in The Gambia, where a UNDP supported MoU enabled legal aid to be provided on a pro bono basis to prisoners, with a special focus on prisoners awaiting trial, and women and juvenile prisoners. In addition to aid for detainees, UNDP in coordination with civil society partners and government departments launched free mobile aid clinics in multiple regions, which enabled individuals to get an understanding of legal issues through awareness raising and facilitated 38 legal consultations, mainly concerning domestic and land disputes. Another collaborative partner in 2019 was the Gambian Police Force, where cooperation on a community policing strategic and implementation plan allowed for a broad range of stakeholders to convene and consult, including CSOs, justice and government institutions. The plan was piloted in September. 

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to emphasise a holistic strategy to strengthening the rule of law in The Gambia, and will pursue concurrent objectives in regard to policy, access to justice and security, in order to achieve holistic solutions.


Guinea (Conakry)

In Guinea, UNDP has focused on strengthening the rule of law through the development and revision of laws, policies, and sectoral strategies, and their adherence to international norms and conventions. This has resulted in the development and revision of approximately 40 different laws and policies, ranging from civil and environmental codes to laws on gender equality. UNDP has also focused on the security sector, where training of judicial police and a monitoring presence at local police stations has reduced the average duration of individuals held in custody and improved efficiency in terms of processing those held in detention. This initiative allowed for 400 police officers to be trained on ethics, professional conduct and regulations. In addition, an innovative approach has been taken with regard to crime prevention, with the formulation of the national urban security observatory, a database that monitors crime in the capital Conakry and also allows for data to be fed into the criminal justice decision making process.  

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to support the government in Guinea on rule of law reform, and focus on strengthening the security sector in order to enable an environment that can deliver sustainable development. 


In Guinea-Bissau, UNDP focused on supporting the population’s access to justice. Through assisting the design, development and construction of a local ‘House of Justice’, a one stop shop institution which hosts a range of legal services including a court house, civil registration services and a legal aid centre, legal services became accessible to a population in an efficient manner all under one roof. In addition, due to UNDP financial support, an agreement between the Bar Association and Access to Justice Centres was entered which provided free legal aid to vulnerable communities throughout the country. UNDP also assisted at the policy level by supporting the national strategy for building capacity, a strategy designed to increase the capacity of justice institutions and CSOs on justice and human rights issues. Further emphasis on capacity building was witnessed through UNDP’s support to a strategy which will enable the training of almost 200 legal practitioners who are prospective judges and lawyers. 

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to focus on improving access to justice and supporting capacity building initiatives in Guinea-Bissau to implant and consolidate a rule of law foundation which will build a state that is democratic, open and just, paving the way for sustainable development.



In Liberia, UNDP has focused on the delivery of justice with regard to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) crimes. Through its programme, support was provided to the specialised SGBV Crime Unit, which was established by the Ministry of Justice specifically to prosecute gender-based violence cases. UNDP provided technical, capacity building, and service delivery support to the unit, and in 2019 the Unit processed 534 cases and prosecuted 252 cases. 

Through a number of institutional reforms there was also an emphasis on ensuring accountability in the security sector. One example was the establishment of a civilian complaints board which received complaints against the Liberian National Police, Immigration Service, and Department of Corrections, with a total of over 700 cases being lodged. With regard to access to legal aid, six public defenders who were trained and deployed to remote areas with support from UNDP, defended 116 extremely impoverished individuals, and in coordination with CSOs, community based awareness on legal aid was provided at the community level.

UNDP will continue to support SGBV justice in the country, while focusing on security sector accountability and access to justice for those most out of reach.


South Sudan

UNDP continued to lead efforts to improve the functioning and operationalization of mobile courts in areas outside Protection of Civilian (POC) sites in South Sudan. These efforts were further enhanced through the convening of a round table discussion, in coordination with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which brought together members of the judiciary in order to address specific concerns regarding the mobile courts, including on sustainability and compliance with international human rights standards. As a result, it was recommended that that defence representation should be provided for the accused, mobile courts should not preside over death sentences cases and mobile court registers were developed. 

Mobile courts were deployed to three additional regions, which handled 205 cases and resulted in 38 convictions, the release of 46 people who had been held in prolonged and arbitrary detention and 67 acquittals. Nine of the cases resolved were related to gender-based violence (GBV). UNDP’s access to justice work includes legal aid initiatives, where UNDP issued legal aid grants to a civil society organization through which 241 people were assisted in the year to gain access to justice through two newly established Justice and Confidence centres. Over 50% of beneficiaries were women.

In 2019 UNDP provided support to community security initiatives convening stakeholder groups in comprising justice and security providers, civil society and the local community to meet monthly and discuss security-related issues. This was achieved through the establishment of eight police community relations committees and 14 community policing outreach programmes which were attended by 5,137 people (2,620 females), which resulted in improved relations between the police force and local communities and increased community members’ confidence in their protection.

Looking ahead, UNDP shall continue to support access to justice and legal aid initiatives in South Sudan, in order to strengthen the rule of law and to maximise people’s access to justice, with the objective of ensuring sustainable peace for all.



UNDP seeks to enhance the effectiveness of its rule of law interventions, through expanded capacities for data innovations within peace, justice and human rights institutions. In the ongoing transition setting in Zimbabwe, UNDP takes an innovative approach to programming, to ensure an evidence-based policy and programmatic response to peacebuilding and human rights needs. 

The effectiveness of peace and human rights institutions depends on their ability to execute their mandate based on clear evidence, information and data and to respond to the articulated needs of affected populations. A mechanism for ensuring evidence-based service delivery are complaints handling systems designed to gather information from citizens on violations that they have experienced and which need action. UNDP has initiated the process of establishing a technology based information management system, with the framework now in place and the process of procuring the hardware needed to operationalise the system ongoing. UNDP is supporting the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission  to develop a referral pathway on the complaints handling systems to form the basis for a localized referral system.

In the process to achieve baselines for measuring progress in enhancing cohesion and reconciliation, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), with technical assistance from the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD), commenced the process of designing a cohesion and reconciliation index. NPRC and SeeD worked together to develop a framework to measure the levels of cohesion in Zimbabwe, and a comprehensive methodology for developing the index has been developed, including data collection tools and training of enumerators. Working with Zimbabwean think tanks, Universities and CSOs, the tools will be deployed with an initial sample of four provinces. Simultaneously a conflict mapping exercise which will feed into a technology based conflict early warning system, is being developed by the Commission’s Prevention and non-recurrence committee.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to support the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission on the development of an integrated complaints referral system, and the NPRC on the development of a cohesion and reconciliation index.


Arab States

Arab States

Arab States

Due to ongoing protracted crises in several Arab countries, significant threats remain to the region’s progress with regard to socio-economic development and the rule of law. In addition, prolonged and high levels of forced displacement pose further challenges for regional, national and sub-national administrations, particularly in conflict-affected countries. As governments continue to prioritise security concerns over political and economic reforms, long-standing domestic grievances, including weak governance and rule of law deficits, economic inequalities, and high rates of unemployment remain largely unaddressed. These grievances are further exacerbated by experiences of injustice and rights violations, slow rates of economic growth, pervasive corruption, limitations on political freedoms such as freedom of expression and the media, and diminished opportunities for migration. In some cases, marginalized youth are susceptible to criminal activity and violent extremism. Women and youth maintain prominent roles in social movements that seek greater accountability, transparency, inclusion and responsiveness from their governments. Several Arab countries have reformed laws which previously discriminated against women, however discriminatory social norms and policies, as well as ongoing protracted conflicts, continue to perpetuate gender inequality throughout the region and remain major obstacles to social and economic development. 

UNDP supports governments across the region as they continue towards building inclusive and peaceful societies, underpinned by people-centric governance and the rule of law. Working with the region’s governments, UNDP supports the strengthening of justice institutions to enhance their transparency and accountability, to promote their independence and efficiency, and to uphold the rule of law and the protection of human rights. We also foster regional and country platforms that identify and tackle risks of corruption in key vulnerable sectors, and work on engaging society in promoting a culture of integrity, with emphasis on the role of the youth. UNDP supports an active role for individuals and civil society in inclusive processes in order to protect fundamental rights and freedoms and to ensure greater access to justice to all. We also support communities and civil societies to be active participants in preventing and mitigating local-level disputes and promoting peace and social cohesion. UNDP also provides thought leadership in the advancement of gender justice, including in the pursuit of increased women’s participation and leadership in justice and security sectors. 

In this context, UNDP will continue to support governments within the Arab States region to achieve sustainable peace and inclusive societies, with the rule of law and fundamental human rights imbedded at the very core of our efforts.



In Iraq, the development of security and justice services continues to be a priority for UNDP, founded on the principle that both justice and security are prerequisites for sustainable peace and development. In support of the Government of Iraq’s Security Sector Reform Programme, UNDP’s contributions were in the form of technical advice and assistance on a number of security related areas such as criminal justice and law enforcement, security architecture, defence and security strategy, and national security legislation. In the pursuit of gender equality within law enforcement, through our advocacy efforts a policy guideline was adopted by the Government of Iraq
entitled ‘increasing women’s participation in security’, with the objective to further the goal of an inclusive security apparatus in the country. 

UNDP’s focus on gender justice included support to the Directorate of Violence Against Women in the form of staff trainings on SGBV, resulting in 330 members of the Directorate being trained on SGBV awareness and victim assistance. UNDP continues to place emphasis on a decentralized security structure in Iraq, moving away from the military security model of the past towards a community focused civil structure. With assistance from UNDP, a roadmap for local police on law enforcement and criminal investigations was adopted by the Ministry of Interior, focusing on several topics including the effectiveness of policing at the community level, traffic enforcement, and transparency in the criminal investigation process. With the objective of a cohesive criminal justice system, and with technical advice and assistance from UNDP, Standard Operating Procedures were adopted to enable criminal investigations to be conducted in an increasingly effective and accountable manner, with an emphasis on due process. To compliment these procedures and guidelines, 178 police officers received specialized training on how to conduct criminal investigations and on police management. UNDP also supported 12 CSO led impact projects designed to develop partnerships between police and the local communities to address local safety issues in liberated and other areas.

Going forward, UNDP will continue to provide support to the Government of Iraq to improve the capacity of its justice institutions and the security sector, and assist with the implementation of its Security Sector Reform Programme. We view the cohesive approach adopted by the justice institutions with a focus on community security as pivotal to a sustainable rule of law system in Iraq.


In Jordan, UNDP has taken an innovative approach to the issue of resolving small-value monetary disputes. In partnership with the Ministry of Justice, UNDP initiated a process to expedite small claims disputes, with a particular focus on women detained for debt. As a result of the collaboration, a specialized Small Claims Committee was established to develop a system that would streamline and improve the service delivery of the debt and small claims process. UNDP facilitated consultations between various justice sector institutions, which contributed to the development of a model small claims process that was piloted in six courts in November 2019. Since the initiation of the pilot phase, Jordan’s Ministry of Justice has requested the small claims initiative be extended to other courts. 

UNDP continues to address the issue of indebted women in Jordan, known colloquially as gharimat, where a scoping review was conducted of the regulations and policies concerning the practice of incarcerating women for defaulting on the repayment of small loans. The review focused on contributing factors, such as economic, legal and financial issues, as well as solutions, including alternatives to detention. The outcomes of the review will be used to inform future policymaking regarding vulnerable populations such as the gharimat

Looking forward, UNDP is fully invested in developing a solution to the small claims process for vulnerable women in Jordan, and places the promotion of gender justice at the heart of its programme in the country.



In Lebanon, UNDP supports community policing and access to legal aid at the community level for host communities and refugee populations. 2019 witnessed the launch of the Strategic Framework for the Reform of the Municipal Police, which focussed on elements such as operating procedures, code of conduct, training, civilian uniform and equal recruitment in terms of gender. As part of the reform, UNDP supported human rights-based training for police officers with more than 800 municipal police officers receiving training, which included a module on the police’s response to refugees, SGBV cases and children, developed in partnership with UNHCR, UNICEF, UNFPA and KAFA. Accountability within the security forces was also addressed with the establishment of an internal Oversight Committee for the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and strengthening dialogue between security actors and the community through partnerships with civil society and the Bar Association. 

2019 also saw UNDP strengthening its partnership with UNHCR and local bar associations, supported by the Ministry of Justice, to launch an initiative designed to provide free legal aid to those most vulnerable in accessing basic legal services. The vision behind this initiative is to shift towards a definition of legal aid as a comprehensive service designed to provide remedies for daily injustices and legal disputes beyond solely legal representation, including through establishing local legal helpdesks to provide information and assistance to refugees and host communities.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to support the reform and capacity building of the security services in Lebanon, and will elaborate on its existing access to justice initiatives by supporting the Ministry of Justice on the development of a national policy for legal aid.



In Libya, UNDP and UNSMIL are working together on the Policing and Security Joint Programme (PSJP) to support security and justice sector reform processes. In 2019, the Programme conducted capacity assessments of rule of law institutions in Benghazi, Sabha and Tripoli, which aided in identifying priority areas of support across the criminal justice chain, ranging from the local police up to the Ministry of the Interior and Justice and the Supreme Council of the Judiciary. This was critical to have a holistic picture of the justice sector in Libya in the context of the ongoing conflict. The Programme takes a comprehensive approach to reform, which includes training police officers on leadership skills and for election security planning, while also supporting institutional reform within the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice, including the establishment of Human Rights Offices within the ministries. 

Adopting an inclusive and people-centred approach to justice and security in Libya, UNDP and UNSMIL also sought to restore public confidence in the police and rule of law actors by facilitating the development of a community-oriented policing model for the Libyan context. 

This resulted in 15 police stations being supported to increase their level of community interaction and to improve general visibility among the public and to establish the protocols for a model police station and a model prison. In addition, UNDP and UNSMIL worked with the Ministry of Interior and Justice on gender inclusive and gender sensitive policing, which included identifying opportunities to enhance women’s representation within the police and justice sectors, and on strengthening the institutional responsiveness of police and justice actors to the issue of violence against women. PSJP further elaborated on the gender dimension by facilitating workshops on enhancing the role of women in law enforcement and on institutional responsiveness for violence against women, which led to action plans being developed on improving gender equality and addressing violence against women. The two workshops together had a combined 160 participants, with 110 women represented.  

Looking ahead, the Policing and Security Joint Programme will remain a keystone of UNDP’s work in Libya, and will continue to act as a crucial means of addressing some of the fundamental challenges related to the rule of law, security sector reform and gender equality.


State of Palestine

In the State of Palestine, UNDP takes an innovative approach to tackling the judicial and procedural hurdles faced by Palestinians. In partnership with UN Women and UNICEF, UNDP implemented the unique Sawasya II joint programme with the objective of advancing justice through the strengthening of rule of law institutions, and witnessed proper implementation in 2019. Under this programme, nearly 34,000 individuals were able to access legal aid and related information, with approximately 70% of the beneficiaries being women. 

A unique online e-justice platform was developed which allows access to critical legal services otherwise difficult to access due to the restrictive measures imposed. This level of innovation is set to continue into the future due to the development of a five-year roadmap that will allow 19 legal services to be available on the platform, with the support of UNDP. The objective of this platform is to enable Palestinians to manage legal issues and access services online, such as case management or obtaining official documentation, via a personal and secure account. Concurrently, the first ever regional knowledge transfer platform for case management was established by the State of Palestine, with UNDP support. 

Strides were also made with regard to justice for women and youth. With the support of the Sawasya programme, guidelines were finalized that will allow juvenile cases to be administered outside of the mainstream criminal justice system, thereby alleviating pressure on the courts and further complying with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. New procedures were introduced to investigate and prosecute cases regarding domestic violence and violence against women, and as a result of trainings over 7,000 police officers are better equipped to deal with domestic violence matters.

Strengthening community policing and civic accountability structures will be a focus for UNDP going forward, while at the same time continuing to be innovative in its approach to providing access to justice to all.



In Syria, the ongoing protracted crisis has created significant impediments for the rule of law, and the justice institutions and processes have ground to a near halt. In this context, UNDP has mainly been engaged in capacity development and raising awareness of the conflict affected communities, on legal issues and human rights. In 2019, UNDP resumed its interventions in community safety and the justice sector and expanded its programme in Syria with the objective of long-term sustainability, while adopting an area-based approach to programming. As part of the effort, four legal counselling clinics were established at the community level in order to provide guidance and advisory services to the local communities, through which over 1,000 Syrians received legal counselling, of which almost 70% were female. Also, over 6,000 Syrians were included in legal awareness initiatives in seven governates; Aleppo; Hama; Homs; Latakia; Hassakeh, Raqqa and Damascus. UNDP also tackled community security issues and engaged with communities to identify causes of insecurity and how to respond to them. These programmatic interventions provided an opportunity for local communities to seek guidance on legal issues, and subsequent solutions. Women have been noteworthy beneficiaries of these initiatives, as indicated in previous figures, where through word of mouth women are increasingly becoming aware of the availability of these services and the ability to seek legal counselling. 

The conflict in Syria has led to major Housing, Land and Property (HLP) issues and disputes, which led UNDP to mainstream HLP related legal awareness activities as well as analyse the legislative environment related to HLP. With continued focus at the community level, UNDP supported the development of a Collaborative Dispute Resolution (CDR) mechanism for resolving community HLP disputes, which will see the initiation of its pilot phase in 2020. With regard to research and analysis, UNDP Syria carried out a comprehensive context analysis of the justice sector, as well as conducted a community needs assessment to identify gaps in the rule of law, and focus group discussions were held to gain insight into the issues facing women in respect to safety, access to justice and human rights. These vital studies will inform UNDP’s approach to programming into 2020 and beyond.

Moving forward, UNDP will continue promoting access to justice, community safety and security at the community level. Building on these community orientated interventions, UNDP will further its focus on engaging with judicial and legal institutions in order to develop and strengthen their capacities at the local level. UNDP is committed to achieving social cohesion and harmony in Syrian communities, and through continued local engagement and the promotion of women’s rights, we will strive for sustainable positive peace.



In Tunisia, during a year marked by the country’s legislative and presidential elections UNDP supported training sessions for 150 prosecutors and members of the judiciary, to address challenges concerning campaign financing, electronic crimes and other electoral infringements. UNDP also focused on strengthening access to justice in the country by supporting the establishment of a legal aid network for vulnerable people, including women and youth, to provide legal awareness sessions, legal advice and mediation services. UNDP's work on gender justice extended to its support for strengthening the capacities of specialized units charged with investigating SGBV cases, in line with a law adopted in 2017. In addition, support was provided to a mobile team which trained 446 members of the internal security forces on human rights and violence against women issues. 

This training was complemented by UNDP’s support to the establishment of a regional network of CSOs that aims to raise awareness amongst communities on individual rights and the legal processes available for realising those rights, including in matters of violence against women. In partnership with the Council of Europe and OHCHR, UNDP supported the elaboration of the first prisoner’s guidebook on the rights of detainees for the corrections service. UNDP continued to support 16 local security committees that serve as a coordination mechanism for strengthened partnerships between CSOs, the internal security forces and local authorities, to enhance community safety and security.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to support the expansion of the community policing approach and strengthening of access to justice services in the country. Furthermore, UNDP will focus on supporting an inclusive transitional justice process, a vital process in the framework for sustainable peace, and will continue to provide assistance to the victims of gender-based violence and to the implementation of laws that are designed to protect them.



In Yemen, UNDP applies a holistic approach in its support to justice and security institutions. In 2019 UNDP conducted a series of training workshops for a range of justice actors, including judges, prosecutors, civil society representatives and law enforcement personnel, in seven governorates including Hodeidah and Sana’a. These workshops focused on topics such as evidence gathering, the role of mental health in the justice system, and the implementation of human rights-related protections in the criminal code. As a result of these initiatives, 922 individuals in the justice sector, including 113 women, received training. In addition, UNDP provided technical assistance that enabled progress to be made in terms of increasing efficiency of service delivery within the justice sector. The Attorney General’s Office launched a specialized criminal prosecution office in Sana'a, and a central database within the Ministry of Justice connecting all public prosecution offices has been further developed. This will allow for information sharing within the wider justice sector as well as facilitate improved accountability procedures for judicial staff. 

UNDP also focused on rehabilitation measures for prison inmates, through the support of vocational trainings, equipping over 1,400 inmates – including women and youth – with practical skills in areas such as computers and IT, vehicle mechanics, sewing, and hairdressing. UNDP has partnered with the Sajeen Foundation to assist the reintegration of these trainees back into society, and to support their gainful employment. 

Going forward, UNDP will continue to apply a holistic approach to programming in Yemen, to ensure that the development and capacity of these vital justice and security institutions continues in order to achieve sustainable peace.





In a region where knowledge of legal rights and human rights remains limited, and with persistent obstacles to access to justice including legal services which are unaffordable to many, UNDP focuses on supporting legal aid, legal awareness, informal dispute resolution and community policing all underpinned by a human rights approach, with programming specifically designed to achieving sustainable peace, while focusing on resolving key conflict drivers such as housing, land and property. UNDP also emphasises support to the most vulnerable groups, including IDPs and refugees, and women and girls particularly with respect to victims of SGBV.

The existence of well-functioning National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) is key to UNDP’s efforts in the region, and support is provided to strengthen their capacities so that they can protect and promote human rights. The importance of strong and representative rule of law infrastructure is reflected in UNDP’s support to justice systems in their efforts to incorporate human rights laws and procedures into their work, and to the promotion of increased women’s representation throughout law enforcement ranks and the justice sector. This focus at the institutional and public sector level is complimented by UNDP’s regional project on implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, where the objective is to counteract some of the negative impacts that rapid economic growth has had on people through business operations. Technical and advisory support to governments in developing national action plans for the implementation of the Guiding Principles, has been provided in 11 countries in Asia-Pacific. Through dedicated Regional and National Forums, we enhanced peer learning and capacity building on the subject and strengthened the ability of civil society and national human rights institutions to provide access to effective remedies in the occurrence of human rights abuses.


In Afghanistan, UNDP continues to place security sector reform at the centre of its efforts. The Community Orientated Policing Services (COPS) was launched as a project to increase cooperation between local communities and the Afghan National Police (ANP), in order to increase trust of the ANP and allow for a community-orientated policing strategy. UNDP also supported the development of a new Public Emergency System, specific to Kabul, where callers can report an emergency. After an initial assessment and planning, the system is due to be implemented in 2020. A focus was also placed on an inclusive police force, supporting the recruitment, training, and deployment of 167 policewomen. 

UNDP also extended nationwide support to strengthening the Criminal Penal Code and Criminal Law Enforcement Mechanisms in Afghanistan, and facilitated a “Criminal Penal Code Conference” for different branches of the justice and law enforcement sectors including police and members of the judiciary, to review the challenges and gaps of the existing penal code and to set up coordination systems to review means of strengthening law enforcement mechanisms. This included specific attention on SGBV cases and strengthening adequate responses from the law enforcement institutions on SGBV case management. UNDP also supported the Attorney General’s Office by setting up the Anti – Harassment committee, an internal process for dealing with sexual harassment within the workplace. 

In 2019, UNDP launched the Anti-Corruption Technical Working Group with participants from the Afghan government, UNDP donors, and UN partners, a working group which exists to coordinate actions to reduce corruption in the country. In addition to a coordination role, UNDP utilised over $1.5 million USD in funds to support CSOs in increasing citizen engagement in monitoring public service delivery and to increase transparency in general, and to support the Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC) in their ability to process high-profile corruption cases. In alignment with national strategies on anti-corruption, and in partnership with UNAMA and UNODC, a common framework to tackle corruption was launched and will feature in UNDP’s work over the course of 2020.

Looking ahead, UNDP will proceed working through its rule of law programme and LOTFA, and continue to pursue a community driven approach to strengthening security and justice in Afghanistan, as well as focus on its anti-corruption initiatives.



In Bangladesh, UNDP focused on the development of community security. The Community Policing Forum (CPF), with national membership, allowed for increased development and management of community security plans which led to reductions in crime at the community level, as well as a reduction in gender-based violence. The Forum also assisted access to justice specifically with regard to women, with the result of a focused Women’s Police Desk introduced in police stations in order to specifically provide a service to women seeking recourse or assistance. Partnerships with legal aid organisations at the national and provincial levels has led to increased access to justice for marginalized groups, and a Case Referral Mechanism has been established which functions as a first port of call for poor and rural communities looking to initiate a legal process. 

UNDP has also provided support at the institutional level with the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission sub-office in Cox’s Bazar, which enables a broader scope for human rights monitoring and investigations, as well as services for victims of human rights violations. 

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to prioritise the development of security and access to justice at the community level, while complimenting these initiatives with support at the national human rights level, to strengthen the rule of law in Bangladesh for all communities. 


In the Maldives, UNDP works closely with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to strengthen the rule of law. In partnership with the AGO, UNDP initiated a review of the justice sector reform proposals and the associated legal framework and policies. With an eye on the perception of the population, the review also sourced data on the challenges faced by the public in accessing justice services in order to get a better idea of the areas in need of legislative and administrative reforms. This review process resulted in a report detailing proposed remedies within the justice sector, specifically on areas regarding accountability, transparency, gender equality, and others. Implementation of recommended remedies by the Government has begun, with the first ever appointments of two women Supreme Court Justices taking place in 2019. Additional support to the AGO took the form of assistance in drafting the inaugural Civil Procedural Code, which allows for a uniform code to be applied to all civil cases, thereby enabling a more efficient, centralised and transparent process for civil litigation. 

Until 2019, there did not exist an independent Bar Association in the Maldives to regulate the practice of law. As a result of the UNDP supported Legal Professions Act, an independent Bar was established and mandated, inter alia, to regulate the provision of legal education in the country. This objective was given effect in the development of a national minimum criteria for law curricula in the Maldives.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to work with the AGO in its efforts to further strengthen justice institutions and services, while also pursuing further gender equality and transparency within the judiciary.


In Myanmar, UNDP was heavily involved in strengthening rule of law institutions and processes through its SARL Project. The development of the ‘Manual on Fair Trial Standards’ is a landmark document which – for the first time in Myanmar’s history – details the policy and guidelines regarding due process in the country, which was achieved through nationwide consultation events and included participants from across the justice sector. In addition, the ‘Legislative Drafting Guidebook’ is the inaugural guidance document detailing how the country’s laws should be drafted, and how to reference and not conflict with existing legislation. In partnership with OHCHR and the Asia Pacific Forum on Human Rights (APF) a capacity assessment was completed of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC), an initiative which took place in parallel to UNDP’s support of producing MNHRC’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan which outlines support to the Commission going forward. 

UNDP was also involved at the community level in Myanmar, where through a network of CSO partners a legal aid programme was launched in Rakhine and Kachin states. Through community sessions, legal information and assistance was provided primarily on Housing, Land and Property Rights (HLP) and SGBV issues, with the general objective being to raise awareness on the rights of IDPs.

Looking ahead, UNDP will be involved in the roll out of MNHRC’s strategic plan as well as involved in supporting other rule of law institutions, while also strengthening access to justice and legal aid initiatives to those most in need.



In Nepal, extending the rule of law’s reach and decentralising the judicial structures are priorities for UNDP. The Nepal constitution created 753 localised judicial units under the authority of local leaders, with the purpose to deliver justice within close proximity in an informal manner. To empower these units UNDP partnered with the Justice Sector Training Centre (a training centre of the Government of Nepal) to develop a Legal Resource Book which consolidates all legal provisions related to the work of the Judicial Committees (JCs), and details the role and responsibilities of the Committees as well as their mandate as stipulated by the Local Government Operations Act, plus guidance notes on how to handle and resolve disputes. Over the course of 2019, UNDP partnered with media outlets and CSOs to raise awareness of the JCs, specifically targeting women and vulnerable populations, with an estimated 100,000 people becoming aware of the services. In addition, UNDP worked with education institutions to utilise their students in support of the Committees.

In another decentralisation effort, UNDP provided technical support to trainings for legal drafting for provincial legal officers, with a total of 282 legal officers trained, 52 of which were women. In an effort to assist and compliment the process of empowering localized legal entities, a digital system was implemented to give access to a repository of laws and regulations, accessible through the internet and mobile devices. Furthermore, UNDP is working to develop a law school syllabus on the subject of business and human rights to equip law graduates with skills on corporate responsibility. The programme will come into effect in 2020.

Looking ahead, UNDP’s focus on empowering local judicial institutions and authorities will continue, as part of its efforts to leave no one behind in regard to the rule of law.


In Pakistan, UNDP has been involved in supporting the development of rule of law infrastructure. The construction of the second phase of the Police Training College was completed with UNDP assistance, allowing the matriculation rate to increase to 1,300 from 550 and thereby increasing policing capacity in the long term. The Model Police Stations initiative in effect redevelops and modernises existing institutions, with modern facilities, equipment and with a section designed to specifically facilitate women claimants. Three of these stations were completed in 2019 with UNDP support, and 68 have been completed since the initiation of the programme. 

UNDP’s access to justice efforts have been facilitated in coordination with local bar councils and CSOs, and in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province 22 legal aid desks and a legal aid unit, located within the Bar Association building, provided legal aid to 25,460 people, 48% of whom were women, through over 4,000 legal aid sessions. In partnership with UNHCR, lawyers were trained on refugee protection laws and training materials on refugee laws for community paralegals. Related to access to justice, UNDP continues to promote gender justice in Pakistan and provides trainings to members of the judiciary and law enforcement on women’s rights, and UNDP’s partnership with local authorities resulted in the members of the inaugural women’s lawyers network to reach 130, up from 60 in 2018.

Looking ahead, UNDP’s approach to the rule of law in Pakistan will remain comprehensive, and will include a focus on justice infrastructure, access to justice on a broad scale, and an emphasis on gender justice.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, UNDP is invested in strengthening criminal procedure. Support was provided in the drafting of a law designed to better protect victims and witnesses of a crime. The law is comprehensive in scope as it extends its protections to cover child victims as well as witnesses to a crime, considered a landmark move in the country. An integral component of the law gives effect to a Protection and Compensation Fund, with the purpose of providing direct financial assistance to victims as well as strengthening the capacities of victim focused services, such as a service to assist victims of SGBV. At the preventative end of the spectrum, UNDP supported an assessment on Criminal Victimization Trends and Patterns designed to source data on the causes of criminal activity, which will contribute towards the eventual development of a National Strategy on Crime Prevention.  

As a result of a UNDP supported campaign, the role and responsibilities of the National Police Commission were enhanced among the public, which led to a 50% increase in requests submitted via a UNDP supported complaints hotline and utilisation of a system used to expedite the initiation process for complaints, also supported by UNDP.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to support the government in the area of criminal justice, in order to strengthen the rule of law for all and ensure sustainable development.


In Timor-Leste, UNDP has focused on access to justice initiatives. Due to the limited number of legal professionals in the country, producing members of the legal sector and putting them to work ipso facto increased peoples support to legal services. Therefore in 2019 UNDP, in partnership with the Legal and Judicial Training Centre (LJTC), supported the training and accreditation process for 13 prospective judges and lawyers, allowing for the legal profession in Timor-Leste to be comprised of 264 officers of the court, 64 of which are women. UNDP also supported an outreach campaign for the Access to Justice Clinics (AJCs), a division of the National Public Defender’s Office (PDO), which focus on offering free legal aid to rural areas where the state’s presence is minimal, particularly with respect to justice. As a result of the campaign, 185 people registered cases with the AJCs, 52 of which were women. 

There was a significant emphasis on capacity building in Timor-Leste, where UNDP supported the Prosecutor General’s Office to provide training on technical and procedural issues for gender-based violence cases, attended by members of the prosecutor’s office and the police force. In addition, support was provided to the LJTC to facilitate trainings for the judiciary on ethics within civil and criminal procedure.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to focus on access to justice initiatives in Timor-Leste, in coordination with national partners, to ensure the rule of law is inclusive.

Europe and Central Asia

Europe and Central Asia

Europe and Central Asia


In a region where several countries continue to deal with the legacies of past armed conflicts, and where ethnic tensions continue to persist across borders, the region has been host to progress in respect to the rule of law and human rights. 

UNDP’s Regional Hub located in Istanbul, has continued to play a pivotal role in its work with national and international partners to strengthen the social contract between the state and society in a manner that protects human rights. An important element in UNDP’s offer in the region has been its support in enhancing NHRIs. For example, support in the development of a three-year road map on regional cooperation among NHRIs in Central Asia through facilitation of a series of regional consultations and trainings in partnership with OHCHR, Asia Pacific forum of NHRIs and the Danish Institute for Human Rights. UNDP continued to partner with the European Network of NHRIs to enhance the roles of NHRIs in the region, and contributed to the Intergovernmental Agencies Contact Group, under the auspices of the OSCE, ODIHR and EU Fundamental Rights Agency, in their support to human rights defenders in the region. UNDP also coordinated with EU’s DG NEAR on consultations on fundamental rights in the region. UNDP continued to provide services such as assessments of NHRIs with OHCHR and regional networks of NHRIs (Turkey and Uzbekistan), and technical expertise for the design of National Human Rights Action (Armenia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine) and preparation of mandatory status reports to the UN Treaty Bodies. 

Through its Country Offices UNDP continues to strengthen the capacity of people and institutions to implement legal reforms. This includes a focus on justice reforms, particularly in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, for a fairer and more transparent criminal justice process and to increase the use of alternatives to detention. In Turkey, UNDP supported the development of the Istanbul Declaration on Transparency which has enabled the development of a code of ethics for judges and prosecutors and continues to assist with judicial reform and in Moldova with the upgrade of the judicial training programme. UNDP also supported access to justice initiatives by assisting in the promotion of mediation and alternative means of dispute resolution (Belarus, Georgia, Kosovo*) and through its focus on the provision of free legal aid services in nine countries (Albania, BiH, Georgia, Kosovo*, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan), which focused on providing access to legal aid for the most vulnerable populations, including refugees in Turkey and IDPs in Ukraine.

UNDP continued to promote community security approaches in Moldova, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Kosovo* and launched a comprehensive coordinating and monitoring mechanism of the Regional Roadmap for SALW Control in the Western Balkans, adopted one year earlier.


*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999)


In Armenia, UNDP worked closely with the Government and Civil Society with a focus on developing national strategies and action plans and aligning them with international human rights standards and principles as well as with the Sustainable Development Goals. To date, development and reform efforts have focused on judicial, human rights, anti-corruption, child rights strategies and the strategy for penitentiary systems. Support was also provided on a policy framework and a roadmap to further operationalize UNCRPD with a complete shift to a rights-based system of disability assessment. A subsequent action plan was also developed and implemented with the intention to promote the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation. 

UNDP has also taken an innovative approach and supported technological innovations regarding the rule of law. For example, UNDP provided support to the development of an online human rights e-platform, with the objective of communicating the Government’s human rights agenda to the public as well as serving as an interactive platform to coordinate implementation and monitoring of the Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan (HRAP). This was complimented by the introduction of the NHRI maintained chatbot, which allows for an online consultation on human rights for inmates. In addition, UNDP assisted the Armenian Government with the development of a real time data collection and visualization platform, to measure progress on the rule of law across the country and reflect the progress made on the implementation of SDG 16. 

Going forward, UNDP will continue to support the Government in its efforts to underpin the policy framework with national strategies and action plans in line with international human rights norms and principles.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNDP focused on access to justice initiatives via the provision of free legal aid. Support was provided to national judicial institutions through further capacity building of free legal aid networks, and through the development of protocol standards for free legal aid providers, in order to stipulate, regulate and enhance the quality of their response to CRSV/GBV survivors and victims. 

Within the framework of the Regional War Crimes Project, UNDP supported cooperation at the multilateral level between Chief Prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Croatia. This cooperation allowed to identify nine war crimes, committed during previous regional conflicts, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and transfer them to Serbian and Croatian jurisdictions. 

In addition to that, UNDP has been active in other areas of transitional justice, through the support of assessments on different issues, such as the digitalization of war crime cases, cross-border legal cooperation, and data protection for judgments and indictments. UNDP also supported capacity building in the form of four workshops, where representatives from the Prosecutor’s Office and other invested agencies and institutes, were able to exchange experiences and discuss how to maximize investigative efforts in the search for missing persons. 

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to support transitional justice processes in the country, as such processes are seen as vital to both the rule of law and the functioning of a cohesive and sustainable society.

Kyrgyz Republic

In the Kyrgyz Republic, UNDP has placed an emphasis on criminal justice reform in the country, through supporting the revision of the Penal and Criminal Procedure Codes. These reforms are aimed at establishing a more humane, accessible, responsive and accountable criminal justice system by pursuing a general policy of depenalization by shifting focus to alternative forms of justice, such as probation, mediation and other alternatives to incarceration. They also place emphasis on fairer and more transparent trial standards, with incorporation of an increasingly due process based trial model, and stronger protections for criminal suspects awaiting trial. In relation to criminal justice, UNDP in partnership with UNODC supported the Ministry of Justice in establishing 14 probation offices which assist with rehabilitation and provide legal aid services to former inmates. 

UNDP also supported access to justice initiatives, with over 8,500 legal consultations provided by 11 free legal aid coordination centres, and over 1,600 legal consultations on family, land, civil and administrative law. As a result of a UNDP supported campaign to raise awareness of the services provided by free legal aid centres, the number of people seeking assistance increased by over 20%.

2019 was significant for the Kyrgyz Republic in terms of acceding to international norms and standards, with the Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and the subsequent development of the Priority Action Plan for the implementation of UNCRPD, processes that were completed with the assistance of UNDP.  

UNDP will continue to provide support to criminal justice reform initiatives in the Kyrgyz Republic, and strive for increased and more efficient access to justice services for its people.


In Ukraine, UNDP has focused on the development of Ukrainian National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), where UNDP’s support has resulted in the Office of the Ombudsperson (OO) achieving an A-status grade, a demonstration of its high quality and a reflection of its international reputation. UNDP also assisted in the creation of an e-platform for the communication of the Government's human rights agenda to the public, which nearly doubled the level of citizens’ trust in the OO. In addition, it provided technical expertise for the design of the National Human Rights Action Plan and assisted the civil society and the OO in preparing alternative reports to several UN treaty bodies. 

As a result of UNDP’s support to access to justice initiatives in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, information on court case submissions, procedures, and rules, are available to the general public and located in court houses, accompanied by guidance on how to receive free legal aid. In addition to the already existing mobile application “Your rights” which provides easier access to justice for people from remote areas, UNDP contributed to the further enabling of 38,000 Ukrainians (60% women) to receive legal aid in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by establishing the innovative mobile legal aid centres. UNDP also successfully advocated for the establishment of five full-time mobile GBV response teams to provide multilateral support to women living in remote rural areas. Finally, 2019 witnessed the opening of the reconstructed Vuhledar City Court in the Donetsk Oblast, which will provide previously inaccessible justice services to over 22,000 people in the region. Access was also extended to information on security, with the adoption of the police’s community evidence-based and people-centred reporting standard. This new standard enables communities to receive succinct and up-to-date data on the security situation in their areas, as well as police responses taken and upcoming actions to reduce crime.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to focus on building capacity in the justice sector in Ukraine, and in its efforts to extend access to justice to those who have been denied.


In Kosovo*, UNDP applies an innovative approach to strengthening the rule of law. The Global Programme support proved catalytic to the Country Office who were able to mobilize additional resources from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and provide technical support to the Ombudsperson Institution in the development of a human rights database. This initiative is part of UNDP’s work to promote innovative digital solutions to deliver integrated justice and human rights support. The database raises awareness on human rights issues as a repository for international and local human rights-based legislation, the international human rights instruments which are applicable in Kosovo*, and relevant European Court of Human Rights case law. Moreover, considering that over 90% of the goals and targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) correspond to human rights obligations, the Database also demonstrates the links of the SDGs with the international instruments applicable in Kosovo* and primary legislation in force. The database is widely accessible and used by a broad scope of people, including relevant government ministries, legal professionals, policy makers, CSOs and academics, and with UNDP’s support 150 of these stakeholders were trained to use the database.

In partnership with UNFPA, UNDP implemented joint initiatives to enhance access to justice and promote effective response for victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases in five different Kosovo* municipalities. This included support on the implementation of Standard Operating Procedures in regard to GBV cases and working with 100 healthcare professionals to develop their capacities in dealing with GBV victims, including on referring victims to available remedial mechanisms within the justice institutions. 

Through this partnership, a practical guide for use by patients visiting the primary medical health institutions was also developed in coordination with the National Institute for Public Health. The guide contains practical information for victims/survivors of GBV such as the meaning and type of GBV cases, the legislation and institutions in place to deal with such cases, reporting procedures and local contact information for people who need to report the case.  

In 2019, UNDP provided legal support to the first and second instance courts to reduce backlog and strengthened alternative dispute resolution procedures, where as a result case backlogs for both trial and appellate courts were reduced by 15% and 17% respectfully. These efforts were complimented by UNDP’s support in reforming the Law on Mediation to ensure a more functional and sustainable mediation procedure. UNDP supported training of 200 legal professionals on these reforms.  A total of 5,090 cases referred for mediation from the courts and prosecution offices (60% more than during 2018, out of which 3,859 were successfully resolved). 

UNDP will continue to support the application of human rights norms and standards in an innovative fashion and strengthen access to justice through a variety of initiatives.


*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999)

Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean

The Latin America and Caribbean region is host to longstanding democratic institutions and an active civic society. In recent years, however, the satisfaction with democracies and its institutions has fallen. This dissatisfaction can be largely attributed to the rise of inequality in the region, which has had a significant effect on governance, justice, and the adherence to human rights. In addition, the Latin America and Caribbean region is the most violent region in the world with 33% of global homicides recorded with only 8% of the population represented. Violence against women is also on the increase and femicide is a major issue. The issue of inequality is particularly important when considering the rapid rise of migration in the region. Between 2010 and 2019 the number of immigrants in the region increased by 66% and the number of emigrants went up 26%, with some 42.7 million people living outside the country of their birth.

This context poses challenges to the application of the rule of law in the region, and requires an innovative approach. In that regard, UNDP is working to develop context-specific solutions to improve the capacities of justice institutions to respond and adapt through our rule of law and human rights programming. The approach has many facets and includes a focus on promoting political and intercultural dialogue, enhanced access to justice and improved citizen security, through evidence-based policy development and sector-wide strategies to address multidimensional violence with emphasis on technical support and assistance to justice and security sectors. For example, through the Caribbean specific CariSECURE Regional Project, UNDP assists justice institutions with facilitating initiatives that aim to tackle specific crime issues, and that are in line with national objectives and sustainable development priorities. 

The objective of UNDP’s Rule of Law programming in the region is to seize opportunities to build a social contract that makes it possible to ensure peaceful and sustainable societies, build public trust in institutions, and promote civic participation, underpinned by the premise that faith in governing institutions and therefore a cohesive society, is amplified when people enjoy equal access to non-discriminatory institutions that provide effective services and administer impartial justice.


In Colombia, transitional justice is a major focus for UNDP. Born out of the Peace Accords between the Government and FARC, the Integral System of Truth Justice Reparation and Non-Repetition is a centrepiece in the pursuit of sustainable peace and justice. UNDP has also specifically supported the judicial representation of victims in individual and collective macro-cases opened by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which includes cases concerning kidnappings, forced recruitment of child soldiers, extrajudicial killings, and other grave human rights violations. In addition, UNDP coordinated with a special unit designed to aid the search for missing persons to expand its network of rural offices, and in the unit’s efforts to provide counselling and other forms of support to families, which reached over 12,400 people. Assistance was also provided to the families of victims, for their participation in hearings and documenting their testimonies in the final report of the Truth Commission.

UNDP has also been active in the area of access to justice in Colombia, specifically in rural areas previously under control of the FARC, where innovative experimental approaches to conflict resolution in 52 rural areas have been tested in partnership with the national and local governments, CSOs, universities, and grassroots organizations. In partnership with the Victims Unit and the Presidential Cooperation Agency, through 15 initiatives the rights to reparation of 12,475 victims of the armed conflict, in 10 regions, benefitted over 55,220 people. 

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to support transitional justice and ordinary justice in Colombia, while strengthening institutions and supporting collective protection initiatives for the proportion of the population most at risk, and ensuring an integrated approach to the rule of law that underpins both the SDGs and the implementation of peace accords in Colombia.

El Salvador

In El Salvador, UNDP has focused on contributing to an efficient and effective legal public defence system. UNDP supported an assessment of the institutional priorities of the public defender’s bureau, a part of the Attorney General’s Office. As a result of the assessment, 60 public defenders received training in international human rights standards specific to the criminal justice process. UNDP has supported the Government in the development of its citizen security plan, and in two separate reports produced in 2019 statistics show that the homicide rate has decreased by 45% over the last three years, with 943 fewer homicides in 2019 than in 2018. 

UNDP also supported an innovative project through El Salvador’s e-justice programme, where information such as judicial processes are available online, and one specific type of software provides warnings and alerts on preventative detention periods. Technical support is also provided to the Attorney General’s office regarding anti-corruption, specifically to the handling of funds held in escrow. The transformation of the justice sector in El Salvador requires special attention to the public defence to facilitate their work in the monitoring and respect for fundamental rights.

Looking ahead, UNDP will continue to support the Government with the implementation of its citizen security plan, and in other areas in order to further strengthen the rule of law in El Salvador. 


In Guatemala, UNDP has been focusing on supporting capacity building within the justice institutions, while also starting to change the culture and attitudes towards gender in the workplace, particularly among judges, magistrates and other members of the judiciary, and the public prosecutor’s office. UNDP supported the development of new guidelines which were included in the Human Rights Policy of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which directly assisted approximately 200 prosecutors. In addition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office received support on a Transitional Justice Training Module, which was intended to educate on a human rights approach to transitional justice, and targeted judges and magistrates. Gender justice was a focus in terms of UNDP’s support on capacity building, with assistance provided to the finalisation of a protocol on sexual harassment in the office of the public prosecutor. Support was also provided to prosecutor’s offices located throughout the country, with 200 judges trained on judicial management.

UNDP will continue to emphasise capacity building in the justice sector, in order to further strengthen the rule of law and enable sustainable development.


In Honduras, UNDP is supporting on strengthening capacity for a more integrated rule of law and access to justice approach. Through the support of the Global Programme, a review was undertaken to allow UNDP to strengthen its access to justice interventions. An analysis of the criminal justice system was developed which identified entry points to enhance the capacities of criminal justice system institutions.

UNDP also supported an analysis of rule of law data in Honduras, identifying data gaps as well as how to utilize data to better implement rule of law programmes. In addition, UNDP has continued to strengthen capacities of human rights institutions, including the offices of the Secretary for Human Rights and the National Commission for Human Rights, as well as strengthening capacities for institutions which support indigenous people and conflict management. 

Looking ahead, UNDP will increase its capacities in Honduras in terms of extra staff, in order to ramp up efforts against sexual and gender based violence in the country, and specifically the issue of femicide, in order to assist in strengthening the rule of law, justice and human rights in the country.

Caribbean Needs Assessment

In order to provide an up-to-date analysis of the main opportunities and challenges in the region, UNDP conducted an extensive assessment of the administration of justice in nine countries in the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago). The assessment included an initial desk review, followed by the development and application of an online needs assessment tool, and then broad consultations with judicial stakeholders in each jurisdiction, with a subsequent consultation with regional judges from all participating countries. The process was concluded with the production of an assessment report which included recommendations from a UNDP technical team sourced from participating countries, with direct inputs from their national judicial counterparts.

The Needs Assessment highlighted trends across the region and therefore identified potential opportunities for the international community on how to add value to current efforts and initiatives on improving the justice system. One of the most challenging issues in all the regional jurisdictions is the backlog of cases, particularly with respect to criminal cases. The causes of these backlogs are multifaceted and can be attributed to a number of factors, including slow investigations carried out by the police, delays in the deposition process, and a lack of human and technological resources. The over-reliance on pre-trial detention due to a lack of pre-trial alternatives was a cause for concern as, within the context of a slow judicial process, it raises infringements on due process and habeas corpus issues that need addressing. 

Government's efforts to improve the administration of justice were recognized in the assessment, particularly efforts on legislative reform, strengthening of institutional capacities across all justice institutions, and on professional development. The introduction of specialised courts was also noted, such as drug, family, juvenile, and sexual offence courts, as well as the introduction by other courts of improved structure and discipline in case management processes, and the increased use of technology for efficiency purposes.

The Assessment produced detailed recommendations at the regional and national levels, allowing for a more targeted approach to future support from the UN System and other international donors.