"This report reviews a number of ‘access to justice assessments’ in the Asia-Pacific region, which examine whether and how marginalized and vulnerable populations access justice to meet their legal and other critical needs. It distils key lessons from the assessments and identifies critical areas of consideration when launching justice assessments. In particular, the report examines the value of approaching justice assessments in a holistic manner, going beyond formal justice structures and understanding access to justice from a broader perspective.
The report analyzes the approaches, strategies, methodologies and tools used in over 23 access to justice assessments conducted over the past decade (2000–2010) in 15 countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, the Republic of Vanuatu and Viet Nam). These assessments collectively provide valuable insights into why and how justice assessments are done, and the results and impacts of such assessments. To enrich the analysis, the report also reviews conceptual and theoretical writings as well as several handbooks on the topic, and provides guidance for future assessments.
The study identifies two primary objectives of the access to justice assessments: to inform policy and to direct programmes and projects that strengthen access to justice. Assessments can be a process by which to strengthen national ownership and capture the perspectives of the people on the ground, particularly of those who are disadvantaged, in order to help shape policy and programmes. In some cases, the assessments can also become part of the efforts to bring about social change and build political momentum by encouraging awareness and participation in national reform processes, for instance in the development of specific laws and policies to increase people’s access to justice on particular issues.
The report also draws on a regional consultation on access to justice assessments held in October 2010, which brought together justice-sector practitioners and development workers to share their experiences on conducting access to justice assessments in the Asia-Pacific region.1 Participants critically discussed the assessments—their approaches, strategies, methodologies, tools, conclusions and recommendations—as well as resulting follow-up actions. They also noted that it would not be possible to develop a universal toolkit or templates on access to justice assessments as it is important to tailor assessments to the specific contexts of each country, the diversity of needs and uniqueness of each individual case. A preliminary draft of this report was circulated for feedback at the consultation, and recommendations from the consultation were used in the report to provide general guidance on conducting assessments."
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