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Developing legal aid systems in Asia- Pacific region Nick Booth Programme Advisor – Governance, Conflict Prevention, Access to Justice and Human Rights.

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Presentation on theme: "Developing legal aid systems in Asia- Pacific region Nick Booth Programme Advisor – Governance, Conflict Prevention, Access to Justice and Human Rights."— Presentation transcript:

1 Developing legal aid systems in Asia- Pacific region Nick Booth Programme Advisor – Governance, Conflict Prevention, Access to Justice and Human Rights UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

2 Legal aid in Asia-Pacific: Great diversity and rapid development  A significant minority of countries (10) have constitutional provisions mandating legal aid (but only 4 of those have legal aid legislation to implement it)  A significant minority of countries (11) have legal aid legislation or are developing it, and these generally have state authorities overseeing and providing legal aid (Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam) but with differing mandates  Bar Associations play key role in providing legal aid in a number of other countries (Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand). Pro bono lawyering is in early stages but growing  NGOs are active in providing legal aid in almost every country, and in some (Cambodia) they are the only providers  University law clinics are playing a growing role across the region (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam)

3 UNDP support to legal aid development  For UNDP legal aid is inseparable from access to justice, and access to justice is necessary for fighting poverty, inequality and exclusion.  So legal aid is (or has been) part of every rule of law/access to justice programme of UNDP; and those programmes are a core part of our work in 14 countries in Asia-Pacific (and growing)

4 Principles and values underlying UNDP support o Not just criminal law – because people need the law to protect them from domestic violence, protect their land and livelihoods, their right to education and health…. o Not just courts, because most disputes are solved more easily and cheaply through other means o Not just lawyers – because there are no lawyers where most poor and vulnerable live, because paying lawyers is unsustainable and in most cases unnecessary

5 UNDP support to legal aid development Our support varies on country context and stage of development, from:  Research, assessment, policy dialogue, consultation (Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand)  Supporting implementation of national framework (Afghanistan, Indonesia)  Supporting legal aid clinics, whether run by government (Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka), Bar Associations (Pakistan, Laos) on NGOs (China, Viet Nam)  Supporting university law clinics (Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Viet Nam)  Supporting pro bono initiatives (regional) Wherever possible we support states to pilot legal aid models and then institutionalize them (case study: Mongolia)

6 UNDP support to legal aid development in Mongolia 1992 Constitution guaranteed the right to receive legal aid, but it remained unimplemented until after first pilot legal aid centres (Ministry of Justice/OSF) 2006 Mongolian state policy on legal aid for the poor UNDP supported MOJ to establish Legal Aid Centres at district (aimag) level, with initial Government contribution of 5 million MNT (2008). 37 legal aid centres staffed by 72 public defenders fully handed over to Government by Law on Legal Aid to Indigent Defendants, budget of 1480 MNT in 2013 (300-fold increase)

7 Criminal legal aid in Afghanistan

8 Women’s legal aid clinic in Malakand, Pakistan

9 Beijing Zhicheng Migrant Workers Legal Aid and Research Centre (NGO)

10 Research and advocacy

11 Community teaching on HIV/AIDS by law students in Viet Nam

12 Law students teach factory workers about their rights in Viet Nam

13 Promoting pro-bono law across the region

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16 Tashi Delek!


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