Impact by Regions, Countries & Territories
UNDP’s Global Programme supports crisis-affected contexts across all regions to strengthen the rule of law and human rights. In this section, we present five regional overviews, detailing our priorities and approach depending on the context, as well as feature select country and territory results from 2021.
Five contexts from the list (Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mali and Yemen) illustrate the achievements of the Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law (GFP). In peacekeeping missions and transition settings, UNDP’s Global Programme works through the GFP to deliver integrated assistance with our UN partners.
GFP Global Focal Point Highlights
The rule of law is essential for sustainable peace and resilient economies, as well as for the prevention or recurrence of conflict. To prevent or address injustice, inequalities or democratic deficits, UNDP works with multiple stakeholders to operate in a way that is consistent with the rule of law and creates opportunities for all individuals to exercise their rights and access justice.
The importance of strong institutions is more evident than ever as countries and communities respond to disruption, whether because of public health restrictions, climate change or political upheaval. Limitations on public gatherings and travel have revealed the need for institutions that are resilient to disruption.
2021 was a pivotal year that saw various developments affecting peace and security around the world. Civic space continued to shrink and the social contract between states and citizens was increasingly challenged, particularly during and after the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing distressing consequences of climate change, states and communities are forced to manage more cross-border conflicts, triggered by the displacement of people seeking increasingly scarce resources.
The scope of human rights challenges is widening, from eroded public trust and shrinking civic space to ongoing inequality and human rights impacts in the socio-economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and emerging risks in the digital sphere. National human rights institutions (NHRIs), along with other human rights defenders, are facing rising and sophisticated forms of reprisals for carrying out their work.
Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) of the 2030 Agenda highlights the importance of access to justice for all for the development of peaceful and inclusive societies. Meaningful access to justice can only be achieved when people know their rights, have the opportunities, agency and capacities to claim them, and have access to independent, inclusive and people-centred justice systems that will respond in a timely, fair and effective manner.
Without justice, there can be no lasting peace. In post-conflict, crisis-affected and fragile contexts, truth-seeking initiatives and reconciliation efforts are essential to bring peace to affected communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down transitional processes as states prioritized their response to the health crisis and measures to support the economy.
In 2021, the continued erosion of democracy and the spread of authoritarian trends in politics in many parts of the world contributed to a backlash against women’s rights. The COVID-19 crisis has reversed some of the hard-won gender parity gains by exacerbating pre-existing inequalities and power imbalances. It has also caused a dramatic increase in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). All these challenges have been particularly acute in conflict, fragile and crisis-affected settings.
New ideas and new strategies are critical to building sustainable and effective development approaches that really meet people’s needs. Technologies and globalization raise new human rights concerns and threaten the rule of law. Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to limit people’s access to basic services. UNDP connected expertise across the globe to learn and adapt. Creating a culture of curiosity and experimentation, these efforts ensured that local needs and expertise were combined with emerging models to bring strategic thinking to people-centred development goals.
- Arab States
- Europe & Central Asia
- Latin America &
In Guatemala, where justice services remained affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP supported judicial institutions in guaranteeing equal access to justice for all, with a focus on individuals and groups facing exclusion in the society: indigenous people, women, persons with disabilities and inhabitants of rural areas.
UNDP contributed to designing a policy of the Constitutional Court to improve services for people in vulnerable conditions. To enhance its digital capacities, UNDP provided the court with an integrated computer system and a statistical management module. The module allows the use of dashboards to analyse the effectiveness of the justice process, including the average time taken to review files, issue notifications or resolutions. The data is used to make informed managerial decisions to improve the constitutional justice process.
Digital technologies were incorporated across the Judicial Branch to expand access to justice to indigenous people living in five remote municipalities. UNDP enabled five Justices of Peace Courts in the department (region) of Alta Verapaz to have virtual hearings and connect with criminal courts of first instance, bringing these courts closer to users at the municipal level and eliminating the need to travel long distance to access judicial services. Twenty judges and judicial personnel were trained to use the equipment, and guidance was elaborated to support the performance of virtual hearings. In addition, UNDP continued providing technical assistance to further guide the 112 interpreters of Mayan languages in the Judicial Branch.
UNDP continued supporting the Public Prosecutor’s Office and civil society organizations (CSOs) to empower almost 750 survivors (63 percent women and 37 percent men) of the internal armed confrontation, especially women survivors of sexual violence, to participate in the pursuit of justice and reparation through culturally relevant legal advice and psychosocial support. To progress further, UNDP organized activities to enable 34 prosecutors from the Human Rights Prosecutor's Office to improve their skills to investigate and prosecute human rights violations committed during the internal armed confrontation. Additionally, UNDP supported the Prosecutor’s Office to implement a model for strategic criminal prosecution to ensure that victims can fully exercise their access to justice.
UNDP and its national partners have contributed to a restorative closure for more than 700 families, mostly Mayan people, who lost their loved ones during the internal armed confrontation. In 2021, a further 14 relatives of people who disappeared or died during the armed confrontation joined the support groups. In 2020-2021, 63 mortal remains of victims were identified and returned to their families for a dignified burial. In coordination with the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG), UNDP has strengthened a network of local civil society organizations to help survivors in the search, exhumation and inhumation of their loved ones and to provide free legal assistance and psychosocial support.
A survey carried out by UNDP showed that 70 percent of survivors of the internal armed confrontation whose cases were under investigation and who testified in the process or were otherwise involved had positive perception about access to justice, indicating level three (from a total of four levels) of satisfaction with the empowerment process. The survey confirmed that 88 percent of women survivors received access to information about the progress in cases considered by the courts of justice.
Key Results: Guatemala
63 mortal remains of victims were identified and returned to their families for a dignified burial.
88% of justice operators increased their knowledge about archival investigation of cases of human rights violations committed during the internal armed confrontation.
Four Centers of Mayan Interpreters received equipment to perform videoconferences with simultaneous translations into Mayan language during court hearings. UNDP supported elaboration of a Judicial Interpretation Protocol in Indigenous Languages to guide 112 interpreters in the Judicial Branch and improve the quality of the translation.