International Development Law Organization

Building Judicial Capacity

Efficient, equitable and accessible justice systems are the lifeblood of the rule of law. For many years, building judicial capacity in the developing world was IDLO's sole area of intervention.

Today, while our mission and expertise has greatly expanded, we remain faithful to that early purpose. Building capacity in the judiciary is still the bulk of what we do, and what we are most recognized for. We do this in a variety of legal systems and traditions, working with local and international partners, with a strong emphasis on transition societies.

In the words of Kyrgyz Supreme Court Chair and IDLO interlocutor Feruza Z. Djumasheva, "Without successful judicial reforms, there will be no economic or social reform."

IDLO Director-General, Jan Beagle's Statement at the Joint Conference of the East African Chief Justices’ forum and the East African Judicial Education Committee

Statement by the Director-General, Jan Beagle at the Joint Conference of the East African Chief Justices’ Forum and the East African Judicial Education Committee

Honourable Chief Justices,

Members of the East African Judiciaries,

Distinguished Guests,

Enhancing the Capacity of Justice Institutions to Deliver Justice in Somalia

Lack of good governance and the rule of law are one of the most pressing problems confronting modern Somalia on its path towards stability and reconstruction. While there have been signs of progress, the absence of robust and competent institutions has contributed to a climate of insecurity and impunity. Several assessments of the justice system in Somalia have found that judges and prosecutors lack of adequate skills to effectively administer criminal trials in line with Somali laws and procedures, particularly with respect to safeguarding the rights of the accused.

Supporting Criminal Justice Sector Reform in Ukraine Phase IV

Despite reform efforts undertaken by the Government of Ukraine after the Maidan Revolution in 2014, Ukrainian citizens continue to regard criminal justice stakeholders with deep distrust. In 2019, the presidential and snap parliamentary elections resulted in a shift of the political environment, creating an opportunity to meaningfully advance anti-corruption reforms.

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Key Initiatives

  • Lack of good governance and the rule of law are one of the most pressing problems confronting modern Somalia on its path towards stability and reconstruction. While there have been signs of progress, the absence of robust and competent institutions has contributed to a climate of insecurity and impunity. Several assessments of the justice system in Somalia have found that judges and prosecutors lack of adequate skills to effectively administer criminal trials in line with Somali laws and procedures, particularly with respect to safeguarding the rights of the accused.
  • Although Myanmar is a Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children in the country still suffer disproportionate risks of early marriage, sexual exploitation, trafficking, neglect and abuse. In order to address these challenges, in 2019, the parliament passed a new Child Rights Law which covers all aspects of a child’s life, including health, education, juvenile justice, children in armed conflict and alternative care arrangements. However, there is still a need to develop rules to guide the law’s implementation.
  • Strengthening the capacity of prosecutors, judges and lawyers in Rwanda in international criminal law is both important and timely. Over two decades after Rwanda’s genocide, the number of cases extradited and transferred from other countries to Rwanda continues to increase. Given that international criminal law is a complex and evolving field, prosecutors who appear in Transfer cases would benefit from skills allowing them to more accurately and effectively research and apply the latest judicial precedents.
  • In Indonesia, with its civil law system, many scholars believe that lecturers do not have any obligation to use case law or jurisprudence, including among judges. This causes stagnant development of the law both in practice and theory. Therefore, integrating case law into education will not only be beneficial to both student and lecturer, but also for the judges so they can employ better consideration when making their decisions or verdicts.
  • Until recently, court processes in the Kyrgyz Republic have not been automated. Manual or paper systems still are required and are the norm although automating all processes has started very actively. According the country’s National Target Program for Development of the Judiciary, automated information systems need to be expanded and rolled out to the whole judicial system, not only within all first instance courts, but also second and third instance courts.
  • Serbia has recently implemented several judicial reforms to modernize and improve the regulatory framework for mediation, such as the new Law on Mediation in 2014. By implementing the new legal framework on mediation, the number of registered mediators and of mediation cases in Serbia have both increased. However, the Supreme Court of Cassation still registers an excessive amount of backlogged cases.
  • In April 2018, the Republic of Armenia adopted a new version of the Civil Procedure Code with the aim to expedite cases and increase the efficiency of civil courts. As in most transition countries, implementation of the law by courts and officials is weak and uneven. The judiciary needs to become familiarized with the new Civil Procedure Code and its application within a limited timeframe. Hence, it is critical that judges have a firm grasp of the newly adopted rules, especially related to commercial disputes.
  • Even the best functioning courts, without effective mechanisms for ensuring compliance with their   decisions, are in effect perceived as weak institutions, leading to an erosion of public confidence in the rule of law as a whole.
  • While Armenia introduced an insolvency law in 2006, insolvency frameworks and procedures need to be strengthened. Insolvency in Armenia is court-led, and many aspects of insolvency law are complex and controversial, requiring specialized judges to handle them. The ongoing strengthening of the specialized insolvency court is expected to have significant positive impact on the insolvency framework and on the country’s investment climate.
  • A small lower-middle income economy, Moldova has made significant progress in reducing poverty and promoting inclusive growth since the early 2000s. While European integration has anchored the Government’s policy reform agenda, many reforms have yet to materialize and economic challenges remain.
  • After Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union the national tax system underwent significant transformations. Wide-reaching reforms to Bulgarian legal codes - civil, criminal and commercial - were implemented, previously existing legislation was overhauled, and many new areas of legislation were introduced, requiring extensive re-training of the judiciary. To deal effectively with cases relating to tax, judges require a sound understanding of tax matters through ongoing and specialized training.
  • The Kyrgyz Republic has made significant strides in working toward improvements to a justice system shaken to the core following the 2010 Revolution. While a wholesale reselection process of judges changed the landscape and provided hope for real change, it also created a judiciary staffed with many inexperienced, under-skilled first-time judges who are more easily exposed to negative influences - both perceived and real. Consequently, the public mistrusts the judiciary and holds a negative perception of it being corrupt, inefficient and dependent on other branches of government.
  • As in many transition countries, non-enforcement of court decisions in the Kyrgyz Republic remains a key obstacle to investor confidence. Litigants and lawyers attest to lengthy delays and a large number of unenforced judgments and debtors who hide assets and evade court orders. The Court Department, which is responsible for supervising the work of enforcement agents, conducts its own ad hoc training in cooperation with other government agencies and departments. However, it does not currently offer a systemic training program. 
  • The economy and banking sectors of Tajikistan face a number of factors affecting the country’s business environment, including high interest rates and weak enforcement. At the core of the banking crisis is the fact that banks do not use the judiciary to support the enforcement of contracts. This in turn affects the construction sector, which, despite the challenging banking environment, is experiencing considerable growth. The justice system in its current condition is not able to address the construction sector disputes that inevitably surface as the sector expands.
  • A strong regime of intellectual property (IP) law is crucial for fostering increased investment and innovation in key sectors of the economy. In recent years Tunisia has focused on building and implementing a policy for attracting foreign investment. Following the adoption of the new constitution, many laws regulating the economy were revised and a new investment code was adopted. The Tunisian government has also strengthened the legal framework for protecting IP, by acceding to the majority of treaties relating to IP and passing several laws on these matters.
  • The Constitution of Kenya requires the Government to facilitate access to justice for all citizens, as it remains a critical pillar for poverty reduction and sustainable development. To this end, IDLO has been supporting the Kenyan judiciary since April 2012 to strengthen its capacity to administer and enhance access to justice for all Kenyans.
  • As in many transition countries, non-enforcement of court decisions in Ukraine remains a key problem which affects not only investor confidence but also the functioning of the whole judiciary. Among particular concerns are lengthy delays, lack of effective measures to prevent and punish debtors who hide assets and evade court orders, few efficient mechanisms for bailiffs to obtain relevant information on debtors’ assets, and vague legislation which creates room for corruption.
  • The criminal justice system in the Philippines experiences poor coordination among agencies, particularly police and prosecutors. Currently, there is a shortage of prosecutors to take criminal cases to trial in the Department of Justice (DOJ), and many of those who serve on behalf of the people require support in order to perform their duties with a high level of necessary knowledge, skills and ethics.
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