Thursday, July 30, 2009

USAID Rule of Law encompasses Legal Empowerment of the Poor

Short of a brief speech I heard at some point last year from Henriertta Fore pointing out USAID's active participation with the Commission, I have not yet come across any USAID strategy papers or announcements following the ARD reports on USAID and Legal Empowerment. However, I did notice that USAID's Rule of Law strategic goals now contains the concept of legal empowerment, as follows (in italics and bold, my emphasis):

"Throughout our activities, the Rule of Law Division focuses on three strategic goals:

  • Increasing Democratic Legal Authority: Ensuring that legal authority extends to the entire territory of the country and applies to all citizens; ensuring that the justice system has a legitimate foundation in the democratic process; eliminating control by armed militias, criminal gangs, or warlords.

    We support programming in constitutional and legal drafting, civilian and community policing, gang prevention, criminal justice and security sector reform. In post-conflict environments, the Rule of Law Division fosters rebuilding the justice sector, increasing access to justice, enhancing oversight of the security sector, working with non-state justice actors and dealing with past abuses.
  • Guaranteeing Rights and the Democratic Process: Promoting independence of the judiciary; ensuring the constitutionality of government action; eliminating politically motivated prosecutions.

    We support programming in human rights, judicial independence, access to justice, legal empowerment of the poor and the disadvantaged, civil society oversight of the justice system and building a culture of lawfulness.
  • Providing Justice as a Service: Providing more effective and efficient justice services, such as enforcing contracts and appealing administrative decisions.

    We support strengthening of justice institutions, including the judiciary, ministries of justice, parliaments, prosecutors’ offices, public defenders, ombudsman’s offices, law enforcement agencies, regulatory bodies, law schools, bar associations and non-state justice institutions."

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