Access to Justice and Human Rights Background

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) promotes access to justice and human rights through a variety of technical assistance programs and publications. Our programs help empower legal professionals and other stakeholders to access justice systems and to assert citizens’ rights. ABA ROLI programs also increase awareness of international human rights standards, while encouraging accountability for human rights violations. ABA ROLI assesses access to justice and human rights legislation vis-à-vis the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and publishes reports.

Our access to justice and human rights programming has two major aspects: promoting access to justice and protecting human rights.

Promoting access to justice. The absence of effective bar associations, along with the lack of financial support and political will on the part of governments, contributes to environments which deny significant portions of the public equal access to legal advice or to the legal system. In response to these problems, ABA ROLI implements programs that strengthen local non-governmental organizations’ capacity to provide legal assistance. Additionally, ABA ROLI facilitates impact litigation, sponsors traveling lawyer programs, supports civil and criminal legal aid programs and pro bono assistance, and advocates for laws that commit states to providing such services.

Protecting human rights. The protection of human rights is a critical element in both the establishment of rule of law and the development of stable democracies. Thus, ABA ROLI establishes legal support networks for human rights workers and publicizes human rights campaigns. By training legal professionals, government officials and students, ABA ROLI strives to create a cadre of local professionals who can uphold internationally recognized human rights principles. ABA ROLI also works to create and strengthen local human rights non-governmental organizations and to develop legal norms that are protective of the rights of individuals.

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