Canada contributes to increasing access to justice in Mali and Ukraine

Judicial training for young Malian jurists

A quick browse of our news feeds will remind us that without the rule of law and access to justice in a country, peace and security are threatened and sustainable development is extremely difficult.

Shockingly, 4 billion people around the world lack access to justice. Poor, vulnerable and marginalized communities such as women and children, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and LGBTQ2 persons, are often most at risk.

The international community, including Canada, has recognized the importance of the rule of law and access to justice in Agenda 2030. Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) – target 3, aims to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.

This past spring, Global Affairs Canada was invited to write an article for A Better World Volume 2, to showcase our efforts to advance SDG16. Below you will find some of the highlights of this article, on improving people’s access to justice.  To read the complete article, please visit Canada’s international assistance contributes to increasing access to justice – efforts in Mali and Ukraine.

Our work in Mali and Ukraine

Provision of legal aid at the Odesa office

Our work to improve people’s access to justice is guided by specific country contexts. Mali and Ukraine present two different case studies. There are similarities between the two. They both emphasize the value of partnerships, including local partners as well as large multilateral partners. They also demonstrate the key role of civil society to help promote people’s access to justice within their communities.

In Mali, Canada is working with Lawyers without Borders Canada, the Center for International Studies and Cooperation, and the National School of Public Administration of Quebec  to improve access to justice, conflict prevention, and reconciliation.  These efforts focus on the people affected by the crisis and instability in Mali since 2012; engaging them in social dialogue, and promoting activities to improve their human rights. The project is working directly with women and children to help:

  • raise awareness about gender-based violence;
  • provide legal services;
  • identify ways to prevent and resolve local conflicts; and
  • support a community approach to achieving justice.

In Ukraine, Canada is supporting the Canadian Bureau for International Education to help the Government of Ukraine and Ukrainian civil society launch a new legal aid system that reaches marginalized Ukrainians. Prior to the passing of the law on Free Legal Aid in June 2011, all Ukrainian citizens were required to pay for legal advice and representation. Many people could not afford legal services.

Beginning in 2012, Canada provided support for the roll out of the new legal aid system, starting with the establishment of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision (CCLAP).  This is an arms-length agency of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, with a mandate to improve social justice by offering equitable access to quality legal aid services for all Ukrainians, particularly individuals from marginalized groups. The next phase was the provision of free legal representation in criminal cases, followed by the right to free legal representation in civil (family) and administrative cases. The final phase introduced legal aid at the grassroots level.

Results

Canadian efforts to improve access to justice in Mali and Ukraine, and many other countries around the world, are helping to strengthen the work of government institutions and processes, and civil society organizations.  These efforts help build the capacity of women and people from marginalized groups to represent their communities and collectively address the challenges they face. Read the full article to learn more about the specific results in Mali and Ukraine. These projects also contribute to achieving SDG 16 in these countries.

For more information on these and other international assistance projects funded by Canada, please consult the Government of Canada’s Project Browser.

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