Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment: A Review of World Bank Practice

This paper reviews the World Bank’s existing work in access to justice and suggests directions for further Bank engagement in this area. Access to justice efforts are grouped here into six categories: court reforms, legal aid, information dissemination and education, alternative dispute resolution, public sector accountability, and research. The paper is motivated in part by recent discussions of ‘legal empowerment’; a thread of inquiry that runs through the review is: how do World Bank efforts to increase access to justice affect the agency of poor people? The paper concludes with insights and recommendations that emerge from the Bank’s experience. This publication originally appeared in The Hague Journal on the Rule of Law.