Priority Action 5: Foster equitable justice innovation
By some accounts, COVID-19 has accelerated progress toward a more improved, digitally empowered justice system. Innovation presents an opportunity through which justice challenges can be overcome. By applying innovative approaches to the way individuals and communities find and exercise justice solutions through tools, processes and new pathways, justice can be unlocked for all.
Innovation is not just about technology, however. Technology should be used as an innovation tool, rather than an end in itself. In some instances, innovative solutions are not always fresh or new – they can be different or unconventional ways of looking at difficult issues. For example, employing traditional, customary and informal justice as a means to resolve disputes or to deliver justice for those who cannot afford formal justice is a case in point.
In all instances, the starting point should be from the needs of the end-users. For example, online systems supporting the resolution of disputes are a burgeoning legal innovation that is improving court efficiency and is increasing access to justice for court users. Case management systems are available in many courts globally, which allow citizens to diagnose their situation and to be informed about their rights and the ways to solve their dispute.
However, discursive engagement with these topics is most readily centered on cutting-edge breakthroughs and inventions at the forefront of business and industry. It has become synonymous with new developments in computing or radical developments in digital products and services that support faster and more streamlined legal services for high-paying clients.
For innovations and technology to play a leading role in delivering value to the less privileged, they will have to be applied intentionally and collaboratively for the end goal of benefiting those with the least access to resources and opportunities.
Citizen awareness and engagement on COVID-19 and rule of law through social media in Myanmar
IDLO has been supporting Myanmar’s Rule of Law Centers since 2014 to provide training to justice professionals, engage with communities, and raise people’s awareness of their rights with the objective to increase trust and cooperation between justice providers and the communities they serve. When COVID-19 restrictions on movement and gathering came into effect in March 2020, IDLO responded quickly, using online platforms and radio programing to stay connected to communities. It also shifted some its focus to the impact of COVID-19 on the rule of law, effectively disseminating timely, accurate information to a wide audience.
Throughout the year, IDLO delivered online training and panel discussions, reaching more people than in-person events would have allowed. For example, over 38,000 people viewed Lawyers in Lockdown, an online panel discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on Myanmar’s justice system disseminated through various media channels. A Facebook campaign on COVID-19 and human rights reached nearly 60,000 people and more than 67,000 people followed online discussions about legal aid service provision and justice sector coordination in the COVID-19 response. The project trained 814 people over the year, including through training to lawyers and paralegals on children’s legal needs.
In response to the increased vulnerability of women to sexual and gender-based violence during COVID-19, IDLO produced a podcast series, ‘Ma OK Bu’ (‘It’s Not OK’), on overcoming legal and cultural barriers to accessing justice for survivors. The podcasts were accompanied by an online Facebook campaign to raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence and signpost people to legal and psychosocial support services. At the same time, over 22,000 pamphlets about COVID-19 and sexual and gender-based violence were distributed to members of the public with contact details for legal assistance.
Find out more:
Harnessing digital government to tackle corruption in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Corruption erodes public trust and confidence in institutions, affects investment and slows down economic development by depriving poor people of much-needed resources and access to services. To combat corruption, IDLO builds national institutional capacities to investigate and prosecute corruption while also promoting preventative strategies, such as building transparency in public processes and strengthening the monitoring and advocacy role of civil society organizations.
In Ukraine, IDLO is supporting the country’s anti-corruption and reforms, working at the national and regional levels. IDLO is providing a variety of expertise to Ukrainian state agencies in e-justice and e-governance innovations, and supporting the establishment and operation of new one-stop Public Service Center (PSC). The PSCs were established to provide a wide range of public services to the general public under the umbrella of a one-stop-shop administrative facility, equipped with modern digital databases, and linked to a secure data exchange system, in an open-space environment designed to reduce the risks of corruption.
In Kyrgyzstan, IDLO has been supporting judicial reform and modernization efforts following the 2010 Revolution. Capitalizing on a national resolve to reform the Kyrgyz judiciary, IDLO, with the support of USAID, actively assisted a wide range of e-justice initiatives in the Kyrgyz Republic to improve the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the judiciary through digital technologies.
Starting in 2015, IDLO developed a tailored capacity-building initiative and launched a wide consultative process with justice stakeholders while further developing and adapting digital software. This incremental adaptive approach proved instrumental when assuring that e-justice interventions were strongly connected in the domestic context.
By the end of 2019, almost 90% of all judicial acts were published on the judiciary’s website, precipitating an improvement in judicial decision-making in its accountability to civil society groups and other interested parties. This work is featured in a Lessons Learned Brief, titled ‘Enabling Sustainable Development: Lessons from e-Justice Programming in Kyrgyzstan’ which explores the power of e-justice to enhance judicial independence and integrity and access to justice.
Find out more: