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Justice Aid to promote the rule of law

Justice Aid to promote the rule of law

About the blog

In this blog, we shall post our opinions on various issues related to the initiatives designed to promote the rule of law.   We shall emphasize the opportunities and challenges of the rule of law especially when we use the concept as a tool or means for development.  As this is a forum for free exchange of views on rule of law and development issues, we call on interested individuals to get engaged by putting forward their opinions.

Justice AidTM1 to promote the rule of law

Rule of law is a concept we ‘feel it but not define’ it. We all understand it intuitively, but we have a hard time defining it. However, there have been many attempts of defining the concept. The purpose of this first comment is not to define the concept.  Perhaps we can come back to that later.  The one thing that seems common to rule of law definitions is that there is a fairness or justice element which should be included. Today, I would like to focus on this element.

Inspired by an article2  from one of the PROLAWTM3  courses, I would like to forward an opinion of the possibility of setting up an institution which would be called Justice Aid. Its purpose would be to bring about better justice and bringing solutions to problems through the rule of law.

Justice Aid is not the same as legal aid. Legal aid is a corrective mechanism devised to reduce injustices which seem to occur when there are inequalities between various parties; the weaker party normally suffering the injustice.    Such inequalities could be related to gender, age, level of income, social status, etc. The nature of legal assistance ranges from providing legal advice aimed at resolution of a particular problem or provision of representation in a court.   Legal aid seeks to help the assisted individuals, but it has its limitations.

In many places lawyers are costly and scarce, and providing enough formal legal assistance to meet demand would be implausible. Conventional legal aid is also ill equipped to deal with the plural legal systems prevalent in most countries. Perhaps most significantly, the solutions afforded by litigation and formal legal process are not always the kinds of solutions desired by the people involved, and they do not always contribute meaningfully to the agency of the people they serve.4

These shortcomings can be corrected through a more holistic service which can be referred to as Justice AidTM. As relieving someone of the burden of some unfairness may go beyond the use of legal services, a Justice Aid institution would provide more than legal aid services.  I believe a group of lawyers along with their paralegals and social science experts can come together under this institution to help people pursue solutions which reflect the multi-faceted nature of most problems. Justice Aid practitioners would be looking for multi disciplinary solutions for victims of injustice.

This is just a concept.  I would like to see how this concept might be developed further on this blog.
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1. The author is not aware of the usage of this terminology by others in the sense I use it here. However, some terminologies such as ‘justice service’ used by Vivek Maru in his article do convey similar meaning.

2.  Maru, V., “Allies Unknown: social accountability and legal empowerment”, in Stephen Golub (ed.), Legal Empowerment: Practitioners’ Perspective, (IDLO, 2010), Chapter 5, pp. 82-92. Available at: http://www.idlo.int/Documents/Legal_Empowerment_Practitioners_Perspectives_Book.pdf. (February 15, 2012)

3. PROLAWTM is an LL M program on ‘Rule of Law for Development’ in Loyola University Chicago, Rome Campus

4. See Maru, V., supra n.2 p. 82

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