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Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment: Making the Poor Central in Legal Development Co-operation

By: Ineke Van De Meene, Benjamin Van Rooij

How law can aid development has been the focus of much recent discussion among development workers, scholars and policymakers. Indeed, reforms to improve poor people’s access to justice and to promote their legal empowerment comprise the latest trend in legal development cooperation.The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for example, allocated 21% of its “legal and judicial development” budget for “access to justice reform programmes” in 2006. The interventions have included numerous approaches, from legal aid and the empowerment of vulnerable groups through legal training to increasing the efficiency and capacity of judiciaries. Access to justice and legal empowerment reforms are also supported by the Ministry in other policy areas, such as sustainable development and land reform.

This Research & Policy Note answers a number of basic questions
about this new trend in legal development co-operation. It discusses:
– what access to justice and legal empowerment entail
– why they are important
– the obstacles that the poor and marginalised face in seeking justice
and empowerment through the legal system
– the reforms proposed by these approaches to legal development cooperation.

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Uploaded on: Nov 13, 2017
Last Updated: Nov 16, 2017
Year Published: 2008
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