ABA ROLI Publishes its Access to Justice Assessment Tool

April 2012

After two years of intensive development, testing and vetting, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) released its Access to Justice Assessment Tool (AJAT) during a March 21 event in Washington, DC. About 50 people, including representatives of the U.S. departments of state and justice, international development organizations, law firms and universities attended the event.

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ABA ROLI’s civil society partners said the AJAT has been helpful in strengthening their efforts. Mamadi Kaba, president of ABA ROLI’s partner organization in Guinea (La Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme), said the AJAT “has reinforced our capacity by increasing the number of expert researchers within our organization.”

Stephen Golub, a leading consultant on legal empowerment, gave a keynote address on emerging innovations in legal empowerment and access to justice, highlighting a recently launched international organization, Namati. Through its global network, Namati provides an information-sharing forum for those committed to legal empowerment, including community paralegals, public interest lawyers, journalists, membership and non-governmental organizations, government officials and development agencies. Following the keynote, ABA ROLI’s civil society partners—who, assisted by ABA ROLI, conducted the access to justice assessments in their respective countries—shared their findings and their views on improving access to justice.

The AJAT is one of ABA ROLI’s 10 assessment tools, and it is a methodology for evaluating the availability of justice institutions to communities and individuals to solve common justice problems. With ABA ROLI’s training and support, civil society organizations in Guinea, Indonesia, Mali and the Philippines conducted pilot assessments—considering both customary and formal justice systems—and designed reform programs to address access to justice challenges in their communities. The studies are based on perspectives of key government and community stakeholders as well as accounts of citizens using the justice systems.

ABA ROLI’s civil society partners said the AJAT has been helpful in strengthening their efforts. Mamadi Kaba, president of ABA ROLI’s partner organization in Guinea (La Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme), said the AJAT “has reinforced our capacity by increasing the number of expert researchers within our organization.” Kaba added that the newly gained skills “will serve the cause of justice in Guinea.”

The civil society organizations used their findings and the subsequent reports to develop advocacy platforms and completed the design and implementation of a follow-on program to address access to justice obstacles that the assessments unveiled.

Download a copy of the Access to Justice Assessment Tool or the AJAT reports.

Click here to learn more about Namati and for a free network membership.

To learn more about our research and assessments, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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