In 2012, the UN adopted a set of Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems. The UN Principles and Guidelines envision a legal aid systems where marginalised, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups can avail of effective legal aid. Although legal aid systems exist in our region - with success to varying extents in various states - it is now for the first time that a concrete set of standards has been drafted to ensure their effectiveness. With Legal Aid for Justice, the UNDP regional centre for Europe and CIS plans to support legal aid systems across the region to implement these principles and guidelines, with the aim of ensuring a fully functional and robust legal aid system in each state of the region.
Legal Aid for Justice is currently conducting assessments of national legal aid systems in the region. Moldova has already conducted a state-funded legal aid assessment in April, and a similar initiative will follow in Armenia between September and November 2013.
A host of activities are planned through Legal Aid for Justice in 2013, including:
- Armenia: Legal Aid Assessment – Access to justice project [September-November]
- Kazakhstan: Legal Aid Workshop in Astana [September]
- Kyrgyzstan: Rule of Law Forum in Bishkek [September]
- Moldova: Operationalisation of the New UN Principles and Guidelines [April]
Legal Aid for Justice aims to improve the effectiveness of national legal aid systems across the region, with the goal that legal aid is assured for marginalised, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
- Assessing public/state-funded legal aid systems across the region
- Forming a local UNDP Legal Aid Team capable of providing inputs and guidance
- Conducting capacity development projects and cross-practice initiatives based on needs/demands
- Supporting nationally owned monitoring of legal aid provision (by involving all local stakeholders)
- Integrating UN Principles and Guidelines into UN planning process, including CCA, UNDAF, CPAP
- Clustering and aligning UN Principles and Guidelines with national development priorities
- Advocacy and technical support (good practices/lessons learned) for more effective legal aid systems
The current project is to continue until 2017. Based on its outcome, including results and early impacts, a new programming strategy will be developed for the period thereafter.