Access to Justice and Strengthening the Rule of Law

It is globally recognized that there are strong links between establishing democratic governance, securing human rights and access to justice for all. This recognition has led to the acceleration of judicial reforms worldwide as one of the essential prerequisites of sustainable human development. In line with this perspective, for a global organization founded on the principles of peace, freedom, human rights and rule of law, access to justice for all is a vital part of UNDP’s mandate to strengthen democratic governance, reduce poverty and ensure the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Within the broader context of judicial reform, UNDP’s specific niche lies in supporting justice and related systems so that they work for all, particularly for the disadvantaged.

In the context of Turkey, judicial reform is one of the high priority issues and as a candidate country for EU accession, in recent years the Government of Turkey (GoT) has undertaken comprehensive constitutional and legal changes. Turkey’s strong commitment to judicial reforms is expressed in various national policy framework documents and these efforts mostly take the form of comprehensive legal and constitutional arrangements, which has limited ground for effective and successful implementation of the legal reforms.

UNDP’s involvement in the studies in the field of access to justice and strengthening the rule of law has been to provide technical know and institutional capacity development support based on its global experience and capacity, i.e. to provide multi-country structures and examples as well as expertise in the area of its corporate mandate and the embedment of human rights based approaches to all fields of service delivery and acts of duty bearers.

Within this overall strategy, UNDP Turkey has been engaged to the Turkish judiciary since 2008 with the aim of supporting the judicial reform efforts of Turkey in its EU accession process. Up to date, UNDP has worked in the following areas: i) support to the judicial reform in the perspective of organizational administration; ii) support to the practices of mediation in Turkish criminal and civil justice; iii) development of programs for legally empowered citizens in Turkey; iv) support to the institutional administration of the Presidency of the Court of Cassation in line with the international standards. In that respect, special niche of UNDP in the field of access to justice and strengthening of the rule of law in Turkey is to provide technical assistance for individual and institutional capacity-building based on its global experience and technical expertise in providing country experiences in judicial systems for strengthening the rule of law.