Enhancing Access to Justice for the Consolidation of Peace in Nepal (A2J)

What was the project about

 The Access to Justice project supported the courts to execute court decisions; establish community mediation, paralegal support and court-referred mediation. The project supported to implement laws against gender-based violence and to reform laws.

There have been significant improvements in Nepal's justice system in recent years as many justice officials are now aware of and abide by modern human rights standards. However, many Nepalese are still denied access to justice. Many women and poor and disadvantaged people are unable to invest the considerable time, effort and money needed to pursue cases through the courts. Nor do they know about their rights and how to channel their complaints and get their grievances redressed. Even after approaching the courts their cases are sometimes not tried fairly. As a result many poor people’s livelihoods are undermined, especially by the failure to deal promptly with civil cases such as land disputes. Another drawback of Nepal’s criminal justice system is that many laws are outdated and contrary to international standards. The shortcomings of Nepal’s justice system were exacerbated by the decade-long conflict, which upped the case load and made it more difficult to administer justice fairly.

UNDP’s new access to justice project began work in the latter part of 2008 to improve people’s access to justice, particularly for women and people from socially excluded groups. The A2J project supported the Government of Nepal to carry out a comprehensive programme to strengthen justice system in order to support the peace process in the country. The project aims strategically addressing three critical areas: 1) Transitional Justice; 2) Gender Justice; 3) Access to Justice at the local level.

The objective of the project was to raise national capacity to carry out transitional justice processes through enhancing execution of court decisions, victims support and witness protection programme, and technical assistance to the concerned government agencies for the transitional justice. At the local level, project focused on conflict-affected regions to provide a comprehensive set of services for access to justice to the most vulnerable population including women and socially excluded communities. Programme components at local and grassroots level also included providing free legal aid and mediation services, strengthening local paralegal capacities and engaging with traditional justice mechanisms in conjunction with the  UNDP livelihoods project. The project supported to review and implement laws against gender-based violence and to reform laws.

What had we accomplished so far

The project was building on previous UNDP justice in the following areas:

More efficient district courts providing justice for all — The Reform of the Judiciary project ($1.8m, Jul 01–Dec 07) supported seven district courts to more efficiently provided timely justice by training staff on modern court procedures and was introducing computerised case management. The new project will bring these courts to a stage where the way they operate can be replicated in other courts. It will also assist the Supreme Court to improve services to court users, with an emphasis on assisting women and disadvantaged people.

Legislation revised to meet international standards and treaty obligations — The Strengthening the Rule of Law project ($0.7m, Feb 01–Dec 05) built up the capacity of the Ministry of Law and Justice to draft laws and supported the drafting of new criminal and civil legal codes. The new project will take this legislation through to completion, including reviewing at from the human rights and gender perspectives.

Mediation systems institutionalised — The A2J project was supporting national efforts to strengthen the government court referred mediation programme with centers established in almost all courts. The project had trained over 300 lawyers, court officials, social workers, civil society members and the other professionals on mediation. That new mechanism had the benefits of providing a cheaper and quicker way of dealing with many kinds of less serious cases and is significantly reducing the courts caseloads.

Community mediation was another intervention being implemented by the project. The community mediation helps to resolve disputes through discussion that encourage understanding, compromise and agreement. The project supported the community mediation of disputes in different 4 districts and has trained 961 mediation committee members on how to resolve disputes.  

Countering gender based violence — Domestic violence, workplace harassment, early marriage, dowry related violence, menstrual confinement, trafficking and other abuses are common in Nepal. The project was improving women's access to justice and brining about a more women friendly legal system.

The project had supported the establishment of legal aid desks for victims of GBV in different 7 districts located in Tarai. The legal aid lawyers had been trained on gender issues and provided a knowledgeable and women friendly means of dealing with domestic violence and similar cases. The project also built the capacity of lawyers, judges and prosecutors on the issues of GBV, gender justice and human rights. In addition to the training component, there were some other capacity building related activities for lawyers and law graduates. The project conducted training and coaching support to women law graduates to take the Bar Council exam and public service commission exams.

Who Financed it?

Amount contributed
BCPR $1.6m
UNDP $1.7m
Total budget $3.3 million

Delivery in previous fiscal year




Importance of this project towards achieving the MDGs and consolidating peace

Restoring the rule of law and ensuring access to justice for all citizens is essential to building a lasting peace. The project aimed to enable poor and marginalised people to claim their rights and implement the court decisions. In addition, the project also envisaged to reform the legal system in line with international standards. . Giving poor and marginalised people access to justice will help them improve their livelihoods by enabling them to more easily solve disputes, thus contributing to the poverty MDG (MDG 1).

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