Result Highlights by Regions, Countries & Territories

UNDP’s Global Programme supports crisis-affected contexts across all regions to strengthen the rule of law and human rights. In this section, we provide a short regional overview, detailing our priorities and approach depending on the context, as well as feature select country and territory results from 2020.



The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa has created simultaneous health, economic, social, and human development crises which threaten to reverse many of the recently achieved gains and to tip Africa into recession for the first time in 25 years. Upholding the rule of law became a struggle with COVID-19 magnifying structural problems including crime, insecurity, and systemic governance failures.  This led to protests in some cases including in Nigeria¹, unrest in Guinea due to contested elections, and protests in Namibia due to the increase in gender-based violence (GBV) following the onset of the pandemic.

In many countries excessive lockdown measures further deteriorated the democratic and rights landscape as well as civic space. Some countries in the region saw an increase in arrests which runs counter to the need to decongest prisons where infection rates are disproportionally high.  The lockdown exacerbated the situation with GBV, including intimate partner violence.  South Africa saw over 2,300 cases reported to the police in the first week of the lockdown, with 21 women and children killed by intimate partners by June prompting the President to declare gender-based violence a national crisis.

Many regions continued to experience conflict, with the Sahel and Lake Chad Regions host to millions of displaced. 2020 also saw the emergence of new conflicts causing mass displacement, with a violent extremist insurgency on the borders of Tanzania and Mozambique as well as the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Throughout this, UNDP continued to provide rule of law and human rights support. For example, UNDP Gambia and Sierra Leone supported measures to decongest prisons and thus reduce the spread of the pandemic. A number of countries including Liberia, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe supported measures to counter GBV including through specialised desks in police stations, toll free hotlines and provision of legal counselling.

UNDP continued its support to National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) which played a key role during the pandemic. For example, in Mali, UNDP enabled them to monitor places of detention leading to prisoners’ release, whereas in Nigeria, UNDP supported presidential panels on GBV highlighting a number of key recommendations. UNDP Stabilisation Programmes in the Lake Chad Region (Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria) supported the introduction of policing services, courts, and community security services to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees returning to their communities. UNDP is now working in the Liptako-Gouma area, on the border of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso to undertake the same.

As many countries face second and third waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued restrictive measures, human rights cannot be an afterthought. UNDP will continue to provide support to those in need and continue investments in human capital to maintain peace and prosperity.


In Angola, UNDP supported the elaboration of a manual on law enforcement and human rights in the context of emergency with a focus on non-derogable rights².

Designed in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNPOL/Police Standing Capacity, the manual is tailored to conduct trainings of trainers, in particular in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The manual drew on the legal principles and standards established in the national law and the crisis/emergency decrees, as well as on the international human rights instruments adhered to by Angola. Thematically, it was based on the main issues that hinder human rights protection in the country, namely, use of force, arbitrary or illegal apprehension and detention, ineffective investigations, and lack of police accountability. The manual served for the training of trainers and was used in cascaded training, knowledge transfer, mobilization and guidance at all levels for the security forces with the aim to spearhead the promotion, protection and respect of the non-derogable rights of citizens during and post the COVID-19 emergency.

UNDP facilitated the establishment of a local facility to lead Angolan national efforts in protection of human rights in law enforcement. The facility consists of 12 trainers from the Ministry of Interior and the National Human Rights Follow-up Mechanism and is led by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. Having received the training of trainers and mastered the manual, the facility rolled out the training programme with the municipal police in the capital city of Luanda. As a result, 150 mobile police unit supervisors, 20 migration services supervisors, 20 detention centers supervisors and 10 civil protection services supervisors received training on human rights-based approaches in the time of a crisis.

In addition, UNDP supports the ongoing training at the rank-and-file level with sessions led by trained police supervisors. The intended target of these activities is to raise awareness on human rights-based approaches for 5,000 law enforcement agents in Angola.


  • One local facility of 12 trainers was established to lead national efforts in protection of human rights in law enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the mid-term.
  • 200 police supervisors were trained to be trainers for the police staff on human rights protection.
  • 5,000 rank-and-file law enforcement agents are undergoing training through UNDP support.

Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, the offer of justice has been improved through UNDP’s support for the organization of five civil and correctional mobile court hearings in the Boucle de Mouhoun, North Central and South-West regions, which have handled 260 civil cases, 12 correctional cases and issued 410 certificates of Burkina Faso nationality. At the same time, access to justice for vulnerable groups, in particular women and displaced persons, was improved by the capacity building activities for 55 members of the Judicial Assistance Commissions at the local level and for five focal points in prisons, controlling the mechanisms for access to legal aid. In addition, 141 magistrates, including 18 women, from the counter-terrorism centre and the two economic and financial centres of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso were trained on the management of the offices, investigative techniques, investigation and judgment, with a view to reduce the time of pre-trial detention in cases on economic and financial crimes, and crimes related to terrorism.

UNDP has also contributed to strengthening the effectiveness of judicial independence, through the support provided to the Superior Council of the Judiciary to operationalize an autonomous mechanism for the computerized management of judicial careers. Also, the files of all 292 magistrates of the Council have been digitalized and put online.

UNDP has accompanied the National Human Rights Commission in documenting allegations of human rights violations in Tanwalbougou and supported national actors in setting up a protection mechanism for human rights defenders.

To ensure strengthened public confidence in the Defence and Security Forces, UNDP has supported the process of dissemination and clarification of the National Security Strategy at the local level in the Boucle de Mouhoun, North Central, South-West and Eastern regions, through public conferences within the communities.  Moreover, a dialogue has been established between national civil control structures and security institutions in the Cascades, Hauts-Bassins and North Central regions, bringing together civil society organizations, traditional and religious authorities, as well as Defence and Security Forces. Finally, 2,100 agents from Defense and Security Forces have been able to operate in areas affected by improvised explosive devices (IED), namely, the Sahel, North Central, North and the Boucle de Mouhoun, through a partnership between UNDP and UNMAS.


  • 33 individuals stood trial in 21 cases during a criminal session held in Tenkodogo by the Court of Appeal of Fada.
  • 141 magistrates, including 18 women, received training on office management, investigative techniques and judgment.
  • 2,100 agents of Defense and Security forces were able to operate in IED-affected areas through a partnership between UNDP and UNMAS.
  • 400 agents of Defense and Security forces in 7 regions, including 67 women, trained to prevent and address gender-based violence and operate with respect for human rights.


In Burundi, UNDP supported the establishment of community-based paralegal mechanisms to handle community disputes, mainly on land, property, and marital issues. Noteworthy, land related disputes constituted up to 60% of the judicial caseload in Burundi; consequently, the rate of pending cases was very high. Due to the effective implementation of the local conflict-resolution mechanisms, there was a 40% reduction in cases filed to courts, and a 45% improvement in processing of land related cases that had already been registered.

Burundi’s prisons and detention centers are largely overcrowded with deplorable living conditions and limited access to rights and services. This represented a particular risk with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. To improve the situation, UNDP supported a justice inspection entity and the operations of the established commission to enforce the presidential pardon. As a result, 3,008 persons were released. In addition, more than 1,200 prisoners received scarpered beds, as an improvement of living conditions and a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19.

Over 10,400 people, including 2,681 women, benefitted from UNDP-supported initiatives on ensuring access to justice. Specifically, 1,097 men and 542 women received free legal aid services, while 3,684 men and 2,082 women had their rights protected in mobile courts. In addition, due to UNDP-supported transitional justice mechanism (Court Special Terre et Autres Biens), 1,210 repatriated persons were able to recover their property rights on land. Furthermore, more than 238,333 vulnerable individuals could exercise their civil rights through technical support to local entities dealing with civil registry and land security. Also, UNDP facilitated the establishment and operationalisation of two digital platforms to raise awareness on administrative procedures and legal regulations.

To prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), to ensure access to justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators, UNDP contributed to the strengthening of special court chambers for processing and consideration of such cases. In 2020, out of 7,983 SGBV cases filed to courts, the consideration of 5,144 cases (64%) was completed. In addition, UNDP supported the construction of a one-stop center which will serve three provinces in the southern region of Burundi. Further, early warning mechanisms were established in 36 municipalities, with 925 cases reported and adequately addressed in just two months.


  • Almost 7,000 people recovered their property rights on land through both the regular judiciary system and the transitional justice mechanisms.
  • Over 3,000 individuals were released from overcrowded prisons and detention facilities as a result of UNDP-led advocacy and support.
  • Over 10,400 people, including 2,681 women, benefitted from UNDP-supported legal aid services and mobile courts.


In Chad, UNDP focused on supporting the digitalisation of the penal chain institutions to improve their efficiency, contributing to the reduction of prison overcrowding by enabling criminal sessions, as well as by providing judicial and legal assistance to vulnerable victims of gender-based violence (GBV). To address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP provided hand-washing kits and masks to the prisons in the intervention zones alongside awareness-raising activities for inmates and protection measures for personnel.

A number of interventions in Chad helped improve information management within the penal chain and thus make the judicial system more efficient and effective. For example, due to UNDP’s assistance, the Court of Appeal (CA) of Sarh, the Office of the General Prosecutor, the Commercial Court, the High Court and the Public Prosecutor’s Office became interconnected via a local area network (LAN). This has improved communication and information sharing between different departments of the penal chain institutions within the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal. Other institutions, namely a prison and several police stations, will be considered for interconnections from 2021 onwards.

UNDP’s Penal Chain Project supported the criminal session of the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal of Sarh, providing full financial coverage for the session with the aim to reduce overcrowding in the prisons of Sarh, Moïssala, Koumra and Kyabe. The criminal session in another site was supported by the EU’s PRAJUST II project. The decision on allocating sites was made during the consultations between the PRAJUST II and UNDP, as recommended by the steering committee. The UNDP-supported criminal session enabled the clearing of 42 cases, all categories combined. As a result, 52 detainees gained clarity on their fate, whether sentenced or acquitted. Nine detainees were fully acquitted. This represents a 17.30% drop in prison overcrowding.

UNDP facilitated the provision of legal and judicial support for vulnerable victims, ensuring its effectiveness. Free legal assistance was provided through the support to the Court of Appeal of Sarh for the organisation of the 2020 criminal sessions. During these hearings, ten lawyers were mobilised to assist victims and litigants free of charge. Overall, 90 people benefited from free legal assistance during the criminal sessions in Sarh, Kyabe, Moïssala and Koumra. Out of these 90 people, 15 were victims of gender-based violence.


  • 5 institutions of the Court of Appeal (CA) of Sarh received modern computer equipment and their departments became interconnected via a local area network.
  • 9 out of 52 people have been released from the prisons of the Sarh Court of Appeal as a result of the criminal session supported by UNDP. This represents a 17.30% drop in prison overcrowding.
  • 90 vulnerable and destitute people benefited from free legal assistance during trials organised by the Court of Appeal of Sarh.

Côte d’Ivoire

In Cote d’Ivoire, UNDP contributed to strengthening the criminal justice system through technical and operational capacity building of the prosecution bodies. These efforts have enabled the reforming of the criminal justice system, especially with regard to detention, in compliance with international standards.  Among specific measures, UNDP supported the establishment and the operationalization of the 39 Legal Aid Local Offices at the jurisdiction level. In 2020, these offices processed 555 applications and made 440 decisions on admission. Ten Gender Desks, eleven Legal Aid Local Offices and thirty Magistrates were equipped to support access to justice for the most vulnerable and strengthen the operational capacities of the criminal justice chain.

UNDP’s support to reform the National Human Rights Council (NHRC) and the operationalization of its regional branches has enabled the institution to be accredited to Status A. This support also fostered the establishment of the early warning mechanism within the institution and its divisions, ensuring that information is quickly reassembled at the central level and enabling the Council to effectively carry out its essential mandate of monitoring and protecting human rights. UNDP facilitated the establishment of the Council’s 31 regional commissions. In 2020, the NHRC received 1,765 referrals, of which 1,050 (59.5%) were made through its regional branches.

The NHRC was able to produce, support and disseminate annual human rights reports for 2018 and 2019, as well as its alternative report to the country’s heads of institutions, as required by its statute. Two reports have been submitted and are pending review by treaty bodies, including the Committee Against Torture and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

UNDP, in close collaboration with the OHCHR Regional Office for West Africa, supported the inter-ministerial committee in charge of monitoring the implementation of international instruments in developing the human rights regular reports, as well as the development of a National Human Rights Plan.

A number of activities were implemented to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. For example, UNDP supported the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, in collaboration with the Bar Association and Commissioners of Justice, to reduce the backlog of the criminal cases through legal assistance to the accused. This intervention facilitated the reduction of the number of detainees and prevented the spread of the virus in detention facilities. A special focus was on ensuring access to justice for victims of gender-based violence (GBV). UNDP assisted the development of a digital alert system to report GBV cases, supported the reopening of a victim center through sanitary and food equipment (135 cases referred and 3 victims housed since August 2020), and strengthened the operational capacities of 15 social structures for psychosocial and medical care.


  • 10 Gender Desks, 11 Legal Aid Local Offices and 30 Magistrates equipped to support access to justice to the most vulnerable and strengthen the criminal justice chain operational capacities.
  • 39 Legal Aid Local Offices set up at the jurisdiction level, allowing the process of 555 applications in 2020, including 440 admission decisions.
  • 31 regional commissions of the National Human Rights Council established with UNDP’s facilitation, covering all the regions.

The Gambia

In The Gambia, UNDP focused on ensuring access to justice, development and implementation of transitional justice mechanisms, as well as enhancing the constitutional reform. Within these areas, interventions aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic were prioritized, including rehabilitation of penitentiary facilities, capacity building on human rights obligations during a public state of emergency of the Gambian Police, Immigration, Fire Service, Prisons and Armed Forces, as well as the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Prisons Service and the Police Force.

In collaboration with the judiciary, the Ministry of Justice and other justice stakeholders, UNDP established two virtual courts at the High Court level in June 2020 to decongest the Prison Remand Wing and address the persistent problem of case backlog during the pandemic. In 2020, the operationalization of the virtual courts enabled 131 virtual hearings (107 civil and 24 criminal cases at the High Court). UNDP provided technical support and equipment to expand the virtual courts at the Magistrate level covering all the regions of The Gambia.

UNDP launched remote legal aid and mediation services by mobile phones to enable 54 bail applications to be processed through Legal Aid Desks from Mile 2 and Jeshwang Prisons. 34 individuals benefited from mediation through mobile phones.

In partnership with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNDP continued to support the effective and efficient operationalization of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission and the National Human Rights Commission through broad and hands-on material, technical and advisory support to investigations, reparations, communications and outreach, gender mainstreaming and victim support services. In April 2020, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission submitted its interim report to the President, and in June 2020, the National Human Rights Commission also submitted its maiden annual report to the National Assembly.

UNDP provided a wide range of support to The Gambia’s constitutional review process, including financial support to build up the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and its Secretariat, as well as to undertake a countrywide civic education and public consultation campaign. UNDP also engaged constitutional experts from Kenya and Ghana to assist the CRC in drafting the bill and conducted trainings for civil society and National Assembly Members so that each could better execute their respective roles in the constitutional reform process. UNDP continues to support national partners seeking to reach consensus on remaining contested issues in the hope that the constitutional reform bill will be passed by the National Assembly in 2021.


  • 131 hearings (107 civil and 24 criminal cases) were heard in virtual courts.
  • Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission held 8 public sessions, hearing 146 witnesses and dealing with 17 confessed or alleged perpetrators. The Commission received 460 claims (171 from women) and provided support to 89 victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Constitutional support: 3 consultative and post-mediation sessions; 21 staff members of the National Council for Civic Education trained on the content of the draft constitution and a referendum process; 36 slots in 12 radio stations across 5 regions to raise public awareness on constitution-making process.

Guinea (Conakry)

In Guinea, UNDP prioritized its interventions within three broad thematic areas: strengthening the rule of law, increasing security, and contributing to the protection and promotion of human rights.

Several measures were undertaken to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in prisons. UNDP supported the penitentiary administration to ensure more efficient and speedy trial processes in order to decongest the prisons. In addition, 250 defense and security officers, including 25 women, were trained on the protection measures and the management of the response to COVID-19 in accordance with a human rights-based approach. UNDP organized the trainings for 25 focal points, including 8 women, from the complaints’ mechanism of the civil society consortium, on how to observe and report on the actions of security and defense forces while they enforce the emergency measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With regards to strengthening the rule of law, UNDP supported the development and the technical validation of the criminal policy to effectively enhance access to justice, combat delinquency, restore trust in the justice system and promote Guinea’s exchange on legal assistance with other states.

UNDP contributed to the establishment of a complaint mechanism for the citizens to the General Inspectorate of Security Services, enabling the receipt of 43 complaints in 2020, including 11 cases followed by sanctions. UNDP also supported the deployment of 650 soldiers currently deployed to Kidal, Mali, on behalf of MINUSMA, through the capacity reinforcement of the Training and Peacekeeping Operations Centre (CEOMP), and the organization of training sessions needed for such deployments.

UNDP supported the development of a penitentiary policy to ensure the modernization of the corrections system, humane treatment of detainees and better reintegration of prisoners.


  • 250 defense and security officers, including 25 women, trained on human rights-based response to COVID-19 and relevant protection measures.
  • 25 focal points, including 8 women, from the complaints’ mechanism of an NGOs’ consortium trained to observe and report on security and defense forces behavior while enforcing the emergency measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 43 complaints against misconduct of the security forces have been reported through a newly established mechanism in the General Inspectorate.

Lake Chad

UNDP’s Global Programme on the Rule of Law and Human Rights provides technical support to the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), in the framework of the Regional Stabilization Strategy (RSS) for the stabilization, recovery and resilience of the Boko Haram-affected territories of the Lake Chad Basin. The specific focus is on screening, prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration (SPRR) of persons formerly associated with Boko Haram.

With UNDP’s assistance, an LCBC Policy is being developed on community-based reconciliation and reintegration of persons formerly associated with Boko Haram to ensure a harmonized approach in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. UNDP supported the Lake Chad Basin Commission to facilitate consultations and sensitization sessions, including with the representatives of the Governors from the eight affected territories of the Lake Chad Basin. Furthermore, UNDP contributed to the elaboration of key LCBC documents: i) a background report that updates on the impact of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region and provides a brief analysis of the SPRR process in the Lake Chad Basin; and ii) the explanatory note that advises which framework to use when dealing with Boko Haram and vigilante and other armed groups, and clarifies key terminology. In 2021, UNDP will facilitate technical consultations with LCBC member states to finalize the policy.

The Rule of Law, Security and Human Rights Team and the Regional Project on Preventing and Responding to Violent Extremism in Africa represent UNDP in the LCBC RSS Regional Task Force Protection and Security Cluster. The Regional Task Force aims at establishing a joint analysis, monitoring and evaluation framework for the Regional Stabilization Strategy. As part of this engagement, UNDP provided technical advice to finalize the Strategy’s Results Framework, comprising 110 indicators, and engaged with approximately 30 LCBC partners to launch joint initiatives.

The Rule of Law, Security and Human Rights Team works with the Regional PVE (Preventing Violent Extremism) Project to reinforce reintegration responses by a civil society network for screening, prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration (SPRR) in the region. This 12-month initiative leverages the network of community-level civil society organizations to develop, trial-and-error, refine, evaluate, and sometimes scale-up or further conceptualize their community-driven reintegration responses and approaches to SPRR. With this project, UNDP foresees to achieve the following: i) establishment of a civil society network with self-sustaining virtual infrastructure, encompassing reintegration practitioners to facilitate inclusive capacity building, regional cooperation, knowledge exchange, and mutual learning; ii) measurable increase in the capacities of civil society organizations (CSOs) to provide reintegration assistance, including psycho-social support; iii) stronger engagement between CSOs and the UN; iv) documentation of progress and opportunities for cross-regional expansion, beyond Africa; v) demonstrated relevance of a PVE (preventing violent extremism) -lens to reintegration processes.


  • Draft Policy of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) on Community-based Reconciliation and Reintegration for persons formerly associated with Boko Haram.
  • Technical revision of the LCBC Strategy’s Results Framework comprising 110 indicators.
  • Financial and technical support for the establishment of a Lake Chad civil society network for screening, prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration (SPRR) in the region with a focus on reintegration.


In Liberia, to guarantee justice for the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), two additional specialized SGBV Criminal Courts “E” were established in Bong and Nimba counties. UNDP renovated the court premises, provided furniture and equipment, established an in-camera room to protect the survivors from re-traumatization and provided specialized trainings for judges, prosecutors, social workers and court support staff. These measures are expected to reduce the docket of Court “E” in Montserrado county and to expedite the process of serving justice for SGBV survivors.  In addition, UNDP supported civil society organizations (CSOs) which provided legal aid services to 721 persons (463 men and 258 women), including 321 survivors of SGBV.

UNDP implemented interventions that improved the working environment for police officers to effectively provide protection and security services to residents of remote areas through the construction of a police station at Kolahun in Lofa county. The facility provides enhanced access to protection and security services to the residents in Kolahun and the surrounding areas.

The capacity of the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary to decongest prisons and courts’ dockets was strengthened by supporting legislative reforms. Consequently, support was provided for the amendment and validation of the Criminal Procedure Code to introduce plea bargaining, extend the term of courts and limit unending adjournments of cases. When passed into law, these provisions will reduce case backlog and pre-trial detention. The amendments have been drafted and validated, pending submission to the National Legislature.

To respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP supported the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) to develop an operational plan that enabled the Bureau to prevent the spread of the virus among prison population. In addition, personal protective equipment was distributed, and isolation units were set up in prison facilities in all 15 counties. Also, UNDP assisted the Liberia National Police and Liberia Immigration Service in launching an awareness campaign on the prevention and response to COVID-19 and SGBV reaching approximately 30,000 people.


  • 10 cases considered by the specialized SGBV Court “E” in Nimba county out of 45 registered cases.
  • 2,001 vulnerable persons benefited from the services of 6 public defenders that were recruited, trained and deployed in 6 Magisterial Courts in Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and River Cess.
  • 721 persons (463 men and 258 women) received legal aid services through UNDP-supported civil society organizations, including 321 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Sao Tome e Principe

In Sao Tome e Principe, UNDP focused on political engagement, support for human rights mechanisms and access to justice. Specific measures were undertaken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with regards to law enforcement operations and living conditions in prisons.

After a broad national consultation, an important multi-year Justice System Modernization Project was approved in a high-level meeting, held by the Presidency of the Republic and attended by the Prime-Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, Presidents of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, Court of Auditors, the Attorney-General and the President of the Bar Association of Sao Tome e Principe. The UNDP-led project, approved in a context of high mistrust amongst the political leaders and also towards the justice system, aims to make the justice system more accessible, especially to those living in rural communities, women and youth, and also to protect the independence of the judiciary.

UNDP supported the elaboration of a national report under the Universal Periodic Review and promoted its national dissemination. Advocacy efforts by the country office on the protection of human rights also led to a political commitment of the government to approve the creation of an ombudsperson position in the future.

In the framework of the Justice System Modernization Project, UNDP equipped courtrooms with video-conference equipment and provided the Prosecution Services with an office exclusively dedicated to the victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). To ensure uninterrupted operations of courts, prosecution offices and police stations during the COVID-19 emergency, UNDP assisted these institutions in accessing various digital platforms, disinfected public spaces and supported the rehabilitation of the country’s central prison.


  • The Justice System Modernization project was approved with $1.5 million further mobilized for 2021.
  • 3 courtrooms received video-conference equipment and prosecution services equipped with an office to hear victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
  • A national report under the Universal Periodic Review was elaborated and publicly presented with UNDP support.

Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, with the outbreak of COVID-19, UNDP repurposed its rule of law interventions in consultation with partners. It redirected the support to focus on the priorities of the justice sector and human rights institutions in the context of the pandemic, enabling the continuous functioning of the courts and the upholding of human rights within correctional centres.

The news of the COVID-19 index case at the Freetown Pademba Road, Sierra Leone’s main correctional centre, created major disruptions and confusion in various correctional centres nationwide. Three facilities in Port Loko, Moyamba and Bo were found to be in dire need of proper water and sanitation facilities which are required to ensure COVID-19 prevention. In response, UNDP facilitated the erection of boreholes and the construction of a perimeter fence at the Port Loko facility. The installation of boreholes in the three centres was complemented by the erection of water towers to hold water tanks. The water facility will serve an estimated population of 600 to 1,000, including inmates and correctional officers, about 90% male and 10% female.

In support of the efforts and commitments of the government of Sierra Leone to address the problem of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), UNDP procured two motorbikes to expedite the response and preventive measures, and provided information and computer technology (ICT) equipment for the SGBV Court in Freetown. This support complemented the court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic and helped SGBV survivors access justice and remedy through effective prosecution and punishment of offenders. Within four months since the establishment of the court, the judiciary received 199 cases, securing 19 convictions. 

As part of the initiative to ensure continuous functioning of the earning scheme that contributes to the rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates, UNDP supported the mask-up campaign in Freetown, the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak. Through this support, the Sierra Leone Correctional Centre (SLCS) produced 50,000 face masks which 800 community volunteers distributed in under-serviced and hard-to-reach areas, markets and other places of convergence of large crowds within the Freetown.

Furthermore, communication equipment was provided to SLCS to address the inconvenience caused by the suspension of visitation to correctional centres, thereby facilitating continuity of communication between inmates and their families.


  • 3 correctional centres in Bo, Moyamba and Port Loko districts equipped with boreholes and water tower to improve sanitary conditions.
  • 199 cases received within four months since the establishment of the SGBV Court in Freetown with 19 convictions secured.
  • As part of the mask-up campaign, 800 community volunteers distributed 50,000 face masks produced by the Sierra Leone Correctional Centre to remote communities in the provinces.

Arab States


While the Arab States region is home to five percent of the world’s population, it hosts half of the world’s conflicts and originates close to 40 percent of the 60 million displaced people worldwide¹. The decade since the Arab Spring has seen progressive improvements in some areas, but the region has still to achieve the transformative change in economic, social and political conditions that drove the protests. Arab countries remain exposed to adverse geopolitical dynamics, and conflicts have prompted recurring humanitarian crises and human rights violations. Military expenditures remain high, and governance reforms have been challenged by the contexts of conflict and fragility. A tightening of civic space, including a decline in freedom of expression in different countries, has fuelled citizens’ lack of confidence in institutions. The Arab Barometer (January 2020) found that trust in government in Arab Countries had decreased in most countries over the last decade.

The simultaneous occurrence of COVID-19 and a significant drop in oil prices has exacerbated multidimensional poverty, food insecurity, social cohesion and the gender gap. These circumstances represent significant stumbling blocks to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the region. A new social contract centred around the interrelation between peace and development is essential to address exclusion, instability and conflict.

During 2020, UNDP’s Country Offices directed their Rule of Law and Justice efforts to supporting pandemic response and risk mitigation within the justice chain. Responses to the pandemic focussed on the most urgent needs, including uninterrupted functioning of courts by facilitating remote hearings; access to justice and support for victims of gender-based violence, promoting alternatives to detention to reduce crowding in detention facilities, increasing capacity of National Human Rights Institutions.

While several Arab countries have developed national strategies and laws to address gender inequality, women and girls in the Arab States have achieved 14.4 % less in human development than men over the past 20 years due to inequality². UNDP’s Regional Gender Justice Programme, implemented in collaboration with the regional Gender Team, has been focussing on Gender Justice and the Law. Together with ESCWA, UN Women and UNFPA, detailed country reports on laws and policies across the region that impact gender equality have been collated; the country reports will be validated and published in 2021 together with an updated dashboard.


In 2020, the Government of Iraq’s Security Sector Reform Programme (SSRP) implementation continued with UNDP’s support. As a result, seven out of eight Programme’s priorities were fully operational, including the cross-cutting system on women in the security sector.

The work on the National Security Legislation system has been paused since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the pending appointment of a chair to its sub-working group. Overall, UNDP technical support in this area follows its policy level technical advice and assistance to develop the Government of Iraq’s SSR Programme (2018-2019) and its implementation (2020).

The Ministry of Interior launched the Local Police Service Road Map implementation under its five-year organizational strategy (2019-2023). The Road Map provides a strategy to transition the country from a militarised focus on security to one of civil security authority and democratic policing. In support of the Road Map, UNDP delivered specialized trainings to a total of 147 police officers (134 male, 13 female) on modern crime prevention techniques (knowledge-led policing), criminal investigations, and police management using virtual modalities. In parallel, and to enhance police – community partnerships, UNDP supported 12 quick impact projects (QIPs) with civil society partners, ranging from public awareness raising to community-police joint initiatives to improve local safety and partnerships in Anbar, Basra, Ninewa, Salah al-Din, Baghdad, and Karbala. The QIPs contributed to sensitizing a total of 1,580 community members on community – police joint action to improve state – citizen relations.

The Community Security Integration Pilot Project (CSIP) supported employment reintegration of 87 former volunteer fighters in Al-Qurna Directorate in Basra following their extended engagement in the fight against ISIL. The beneficiaries received a combination of vocational and business trainings, psychosocial support (PSS), and business start-up grant assistance. The initiative also supported four community security investment schemes in the rehabilitation of the Qurna Industrial Preparatory School (QIPS), allowing 200 students per year to undertake a range of vocational training courses.


  • 147 police officers (134 men, 13 women) benefitted from specialised trainings on modern crime prevention techniques. 1,580 community members were sensitized on community – police joint action through 12 quick impact projects in retaken and other areas in Iraq.
  • 87 former volunteer fighters received reintegration assistance through a combination of vocational and business training, psychosocial support and business start-up grants.
  • 4 community security investment schemes led to the rehabilitation of the Qurna Industrial Preparatory School, which will allow 200 students a year to undertake a range of vocational training courses.


In Jordan, UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, initiated a process to enable the expedited processing of small-value monetary disputes (small claims), with a particular focus on women detained for debt. A specialized Small Claims Committee was established to develop a model that would improve the performance and service delivery of the justice system in handling such claims. Following dialogue sessions facilitated by UNDP between the Judicial Council, the Ministry of Justice and the Bar Association, the Small Claims Committee and UNDP developed and launched a model for the small claims processes. In 2020, the process was piloted in four courts in Amman and one court in Irbid. Following a successful piloting phase, the Ministry of Justice has requested the Small Claims Initiative to be expanded to other court locations.

As part of combating corruption in Jordan, the Financial Disclosure Department (FDD) was established under the Ministry of Justice, with direct responsibilities to combat illicit gains. In 2020, UNDP launched an assessment process that would review the FDD’s operations, structural design, institutional independency and, most importantly, available coordination mechanisms and functional linkages with the Anti-Corruption Commission and any other relevant organizations. The report will provide guidance to future interventions that would contribute to enhancing accountability, transparency and integrity in a key anti-corruption government institution.

UNDP together with its stakeholders will pilot a University Law Lab (ULL) in law faculties of universities in Jordan. Its focus will be on providing law graduates with targeted training in professional legal skills coupled with an internship to immerse them in legal practice. In 2020, UNDP developed a syllabus, increased the capacity for ULL administrative staff, and started the accreditation process.

UNDP’s ‘Gender justice to increase women’s economic opportunities and income’ project will contribute to advancing SDG16+³, by providing women entrepreneurs in Amman and Irbid with capacities and knowledge that will enable them to have improved access and control over legal and financial resources addressing their socio-economic vulnerabilities. Support will include financial and legal assistance and advice on the demand side, to both women debtors and microloans’ applicants through an online legal and financial counselling hub; and on the supply side through strengthening the capacity of justice actors to ensure gender-sensitivity in the delivery of justice; and promoting policy and law reform that will advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.


  • Expedited small claims process piloted in 5 courts and endorsed by the Ministry of Justice. During the monitoring period in February 2020, 90% of small claim cases (1,607 out of 1,783) were resolved through the expedited process.
  • Analytical study report developed to enhance accountability and transparency of the Financial Disclosure Department, Jordan’s key anti-corruption government institution.
  • A syllabus and a deployment plan developed for University Law Lab models to be established in the universities in Jordan.


In 2020, the people of Lebanon faced multiple compounded crises: the Syrian crisis, a spiralling socio-economic and political crisis, exacerbated by the impact of a prolonged health crisis, and the ripple effects of the tragic Beirut August 4th explosion. With tensions rising, the security context deteriorating, and national and local institutions’ capacities overstretched, UNDP sustained its critical support to reducing tensions and risks.

UNDP supported the transformation of Lebanon’s Municipal Police (MP) into a human rights-centered service to the communities, engaging more than 200 municipalities across the country. The core idea is to create municipal police that is from the people and at the service of the people. In 2020, the Municipal Police implemented community outreach activities to foster active partnerships with community members and protect the most vulnerable. This transformation enabled Municipal Police’s frontline effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To embed these changes, human rights guidance was developed and disseminated to ensure MP agents across the country are sensitized to their human rights obligations, especially in times of crisis. Besides, UNDP supported the strengthening of the Municipal Police Reform Committee to facilitate oversight and accountability.

In partnership with UNHCR, the Ministry of Justice and the Bar Associations of Tripoli and Beirut, UNDP supported the development of a National Strategy on Legal Aid, including the establishment of pilot helpdesks in municipalities to offer free legal services to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable. UNDP supported the Tripoli Bar Association in establishing a hotline and providing free legal assistance during the COVID-19 crisis, with a focus on SGBV (sexual and gender-based violence) survivors and migrant workers.

After the Beirut blast, UNDP contributed to the development and publication of a “Leave no-one Behind” report spotlighting the multiple and intersectional forms of vulnerability that post-blast recovery efforts should consider and advocating for the inclusive and just recovery. In addition, UNDP supported the National Human Rights Commission, including its monitoring activities, and enhanced the efforts of Beirut Bar Association to safeguard the rights of victims of the Beirut blast through advice and assistance helpdesks in blast-affected areas.


  • Over 200 municipalities across Lebanon were engaged in the transformation of their Municipal Police into a human rights-centered service to the communities.
  • 5 components of the Municipal Police reform framework were successfully piloted in 18 municipalities and one union of municipalities.
  • More than 1,200 victims of the Beirut blast received support through legal assistance helpdesks in blast-affected areas.


In Libya, UNDP focused on piloting programmes to strengthen the capacity of penitentiary and law enforcement institutions in order to enhance community security, the rule of law and human rights-based approach.

UNDP supported the establishment and operationalization of the Technical Working Group for the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, police, and Judicial Police for enabling environment at policy level.

In coordination with UNSMIL and in consultation with the Technical Working Group comprising representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Judicial Police, UNDP supported the development of prison management in Tripoli. The establishment of a criminal justice institution based on the best practices and international standards would serve as a model to be replicated across the country. In addition, standard operating procedures for Libyan prisons were finalized in 2020, in line with national legislation and international standards for prison management.

In the same prison in Tripoli, UNDP achieved progress in operationalizing a rehabilitation center by refurbishing it and installing information technology equipment. 70 female prisoners benefitted from the renewed rehabilitation center. Though skills development programme and the provision of psychosocial support were delayed due to COVID-19, both will be launched in 2021.

In Libya, UNDP works in close partnership with the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM). One of the joint pilot initiatives is the design and the development of a model police station in the municipality of Hai Andalus where 300,000 people will benefit from its people-centered operations. In 2020, the construction of the model police station was completed and a description of its functions and operating procedures was finalized, with technical expertise from UNSMIL-UNDP and EUBAM, and in consultation with the Technical Working Group that includes representatives from the Ministry of Interior and police


  • UNDP supported the establishment and operationalization of the Technical Working Group for the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, police and Judicial Police for enabling environment at policy level.
  • Over 20 representatives of Tripoli Security Directorate and the Ministry of Interior contributed to the development of the terms of reference for a model police station in the municipality of Hai Andalus. Over 300,000 citizens will benefit from its people-centered services.
  • Nearly 70 female prisoners are set to benefit from a rehabilitation programme in a prison in Tripoli where UNDP supported the renovation and provided IT equipment.


In Somalia, the UN Rule of Law portfolio is a joint effort of UNDP, UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), UN Women, UNICEF, UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and UN Police (UNPOL) developed to respond to the Security and Justice Roadmap and Mutual Accountability Framework of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). It aims to increase the capacity of Somalia’s rule of law institutions at federal and state levels to deliver justice and provide security services, to improve civilian oversight of the security sector and apply a holistic rule of law and human rights approach.

In 2020, UNDP continued to combat misinformation with regards to COVID-19. The Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) programme initiated an awareness raising campaign ‘Clerics vs COVID’ which established a network of 240 like-minded religious leaders. As trusted messengers for Somali communities, the clerics were able to target the most marginalized and vulnerable members, disseminating masks and advising people by combining health-related information on the pandemic with religious guidance. The campaign also triggered a social debate about the need to limit gatherings for congregational prayers, and the application of social distancing measures at other places of worship.

Through the Global Focal Point support to the Banadir courts, prosecutors, the Criminal Investigation Department and the Bar Association, complaint protocols were developed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure safety of the detainees and the staff. The number of in-person hearings in civil cases has been reduced, and designated conference rooms were organized to meet the new trial format. In addition, the Supreme Court, Banadir court and the Attorney General’s Office started using video- and tele-conference equipment for coordination.

Under the Joint Programme on Human Rights, the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development (MoWHRD) initiated activities to promote the Women’s Charter for the full inclusion of women in political, economic and social affairs in Somalia. This included the analysis of the lessons learnt from the Diinsoor district elections in 2020 when unprecedented 50% of women were elected; and a needs-mapping exercise to support 59 female parliamentary candidates to the Federal Members States (FMS). UNDP supported MoWHRD to convene a Women’s Conference with the participation of senior state officials, which resulted in a strong commitment from the government to a 30% quota for women parliamentary representation.

The Joint Justice Programme kickstarted a community-led initiative to conduct conversations at sites in selected locations in each of the five FMS, in order to facilitate an inclusive dialogue within communities and to promote their engagement in implementing solutions. Although delays were caused by the COVID-19 restrictions, a total of 1,604 people (893 female, 711 male) participated in the sessions throughout 2020. Communities were identifying challenges to justice, as well as new pandemic-related concerns; in particular, a rise in domestic violence which they attribute to increased anxiety and stress caused by the deterioration of the economic situation in Somalia. The Community Conversations will continue in 2021 to build upon these findings, empowering participants to identify new insights into justice and therefore new possibilities and solutions.


  • Network of 240 respected religious leaders was established to combat the misinformation about COVID-19.
  • Government made a commitment to a 30% quota for women for parliamentary representation.
  • 1,604 people (893 female, 711 male) participated in the inclusive Community Conversations to identify local solutions on justice, security and land issues.

State of Palestine

In the State of Palestine, the joint UNDP, UN Women and UNICEF Sawasya Programme provided legal aid and rights awareness which, in view of the effects of COVID-19 on court work, proved critical in preventing the upending of access to justice gains made thus far. This was particularly important for women who increasingly reported violations of their rights, including those related to child custody and visitation. In 2020, women represented 64% of those who accessed legal aid and awareness services, while children constituted 10% of Sawasya’s beneficiaries. In order to ensure that this progress is sustainable in the long term, legal aid standards for juveniles in the West Bank were finalized, thereby bringing the State of Palestine closer to its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Law school students received practice-based legal training supported by UNDP, that they were able to put to use for community members that cannot afford the services of a private lawyer, thereby increasing the reach of justice services.

Through the support of the Sawasya project, an emergency protocol was adopted for SGBV (sexual and gender-based violence) survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The protocol changed the practice that refused women who were escaping from their abusers from remaining in shelters owing to the risk of the virus transmission. The protocol secured the placement of women who suffered violence in quarantine centers, as well as their testing for COVID-19. The Ministry of Social Development was leading the efforts towards the protocol adoption in coordination with the Ministry of Health.

UNDP supported the development of digital services which significantly improved access to justice and the transparency of legal services for Palestinians. The first e-Justice service and a dedicated mobile application for the authentication of documents became operational, allowing requests to be made and tracked online. The fact that going to a court is only required when the documents are ready for collection and signature has improved access to effective, inclusive and accountable services, strengthened oversight, and freed up critical human resources at the court level reducing costs to citizens. Besides that, enhanced connectivity between governmental agencies (through the Mizan II system⁴) contributed to removing critical administrative barriers in obtaining documents. Finally, prison monitoring processes were digitalized at the level of the Attorney General’s Office and the High Judicial Council, contributing to a system that is able to identify human rights breaches and allow for the implementation of rapid corrective actions, essential to the safeguarding of dignity of those deprived of liberty.


  • Over 35,000 vulnerable Palestinians accessed legal aid and in-person awareness raising sessions across the occupied territory through the joint UNDP, UN Women, UNICEF Sawasya programme.
  • Community policing security and training plans were developed in 3 key pilot localities of the Jericho governorate to benefit more than 45,000 Palestinians.
  • Over 2,000 law school students (52% women) accessed practice-based legal training that they were able to use for community members that cannot afford the services of a private lawyer, thereby increasing the outreach of justice services.


In Sudan, UNDP supported the Ministry of Justice in key transitional processes, including setting-up the Transitional Justice, Peace, Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Commissions. After a consultative process, the draft laws establishing the Commissions were finalized and submitted for approval of the Ministerial Council. UNDP also provided technical advice on legal and procedural aspects of drafting the new constitution and holding elections. To support the rule of law reforms, initial agreements and contacts with judiciary, prosecution, law enforcement agencies and Bar Associations were also concluded in 2020.

In Darfur, UNDP organized capacity building activities for judges, police officers and prison officials. In particular, 81 judges received trainings on the administration of justice; 389 police officers (including 76 women) were sensitized on lawful arrests and on the rights of detained persons, as well as on the community policing, command and control through field training exercises. Finally, 387 prison officers (including 85 women) strengthened their capacities on security, record management and standard operating procedures in prison operations. Besides, UNDP supported civil society, providing training to 422 activists (including 168 women) on trial monitoring and to almost 400 paralegals (including 86 women) on providing legal services and enhancing access to justice in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and areas of return.

In 2020, UNDP created child-friendly spaces and visiting bays in three prisons in Mellit, Ardamatta, and Kass to enhance the living conditions of children incarcerated with primary caregivers and to align visitation rights of detained persons with the Mandela Rules. Also, UNDP constructed and equipped Human Rights Resource Centers at three state universities of El Fasher, El Geneina, Nyala and El Daein.

To promote mediation and dispute resolution among communities, UNDP supported construction and equipment of three Justice and Confidence Centers (JCCs) in Kalma, Kassab, and Abuzar IDP camps. The JCCs became platforms to increase the capacity of community members on livelihood skills, healthcare outreach, including COVID-19 prevention, human rights knowledge, with a focus on sexual and gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence, as well as mediation of community disputes, tribal clashes and land issues.

In Darfur, with the support of the Global Focal Point arrangement, UNDP could enhance the capacity of national institutions across the criminal justice chain. In particular, medical equipment and non-medical items were provided to the Regional Office of the National Human Rights Commission in El Fasher, North Darfur, Sudan Police Force (SPF) and State Prison Directorates in all the states of Darfur.


  • 4 draft laws were developed to establish Sudanese Commissions on transitional justice, anti-corruption, peace, and human rights.
  • Almost 400 paralegals were trained on providing legal aid services and access to justice in IDP camps and areas of return.
  • 5 prison directorates and police forces in Darfur, as well as the Darfur branch of Sudan National Human Rights Commission, received support for the COVID-19 emergency response and prevention.
  • 3 Justice and Confidence Centers (JCCs) in Kalma, Kassab, and Abuzar IDP camps were constructed and equipped with UNDP support.


In Syria, housing, land and property (HLP) issues emerged as a major cause of community level disputes, challenge of the social fabric and potential for exacerbating violence at the community level. UNDP Syria initiated a pilot project on social mediation that will use Collaborative Dispute Resolution (CDR) to address and resolve a range of HLP local disputes. In partnership with Norwegian Refugee Council, UNDP trained 45 community and religious leaders, and piloted the CDR mechanism in four locations (Hasakeh – Daraa- Doma -Al- Tall). Through them, 50 cases have been resolved by the local disputes committee.

UNDP implemented a comprehensive capacity development and training programme targeting 150 legal assistance professionals, and new lawyers focusing on key issues in civil disputes. The participants mentioned that it was a unique opportunity for them to learn from experienced legal experts. UNDP also trained 85 youth volunteers (50 male and 35 female) for promotion of legal awareness among the local communities; in particular, on civil documentation and family affairs. The volunteers shared legal information with their local communities in person and via social media, becoming a resource for future social mobilisation, community awareness and needs identification purposes.   

UNDP provided legal counselling and information through awareness-raising campaigns and referral systems, focussing on internally displaced persons and vulnerable groups. These campaigns covered a wide range of legal topics, with a special focus on the laws and issues that are pertinent to the current situation, such as family status law and civil documentation, women’s rights, gender equality, and property rights law. UNDP also worked on awareness-raising sessions about mine risk education to identify and respond appropriately to mines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs).


  • 4 local committees on Collaborative Dispute Resolution were formed, and 45 community leaders were trained. 50 cases on housing, land and property rights were resolved by these local committees.
  • More than 150 lawyers were trained on key legal concepts, and 85 youth volunteers (50 male and 35 female) were trained to promote legal awareness among the local communities.
  • Almost 100 legal awareness sessions were held in 3 governorates (Al-Hassakeh and AL-Raqqa- Deir ez-Zur) targeting 863 beneficiaries (533 women and 330 men), and 517 legal consultations were provided.


In Tunisia, UNDP co-organized more than 110 activities for COVID-19 prevention, including disinfection of public premises and hospitals, production and distribution of masks, as well as specific measures to protect vulnerable groups.

To improve access to justice for women and families, UNDP supported the reintegration of detainees into society, including assistance to secure employment. A comprehensive perception survey on the justice and penitentiary services in the targeted interior regions was also completed and is now informing the Ministry of Justice’s action plans. Moreover, with a view to strengthen the independence of judiciary, UNDP supported the Tunisian Supreme Judicial Council in developing strategic and operational plans, an organigram and internal oversight mechanisms that will allow better delivery of its mandate in a transparent, accountable and effective way.

UNDP supported Tunisia’s national human rights institutions focussing on improved awareness and accessibility of their functions. This included providing the National Preventative Mechanism (L’Instance Nationale Pour La Prévention de la Torture) with a mobile office for field visits to prisons, which enabled staff to conduct confidential interviews with detainees. In addition, the office structure of the National Authority Against Trafficking in Persons was designed to enhance confidentiality of interviewees. The design has a gender lens, foreseeing, for example, private areas for nursing women or those with children. The changes are planned to be implemented at the start of 2021. Furthermore, extensive support was provided to awareness-raising efforts to inform the public about the important mandate and work of these institutions, with a focus on combatting violence against women.

Through UNDP’s work, the national security force’s reception of and support to women and girls who suffered from violence has been improved. 36 specialized units responsible for investigating violence against women and children received specific equipment that allows recording of victim hearings in accordance with the 2017 Sexual and Gender Based Violence Law. Moreover, more than 300 agents of internal security forces (including 77 women and 62 youth) were sensitized and trained in the reception and care of women and girls who survived violence.


  • More than 300 agents of internal security forces (including 77 women and 62 youth) were sensitized and trained in the reception of and support to women and girls who survived violence.
  • UNDP supported a project that engaged inmates in 12 prisons (84 men and 49 women) to produce 200,000 masks and 8,650 protective suits. The financial compensation received was provided to the inmates’ families to support them through a crisis.
  • UNDP assisted the Supreme Judicial Council in the development of a contingency plan that helped ensure a continuity of services.


In Yemen, UNDP was focusing on empowering communities, specifically local women and youth, to address community safety needs, mostly through awareness-raising campaigns and capacity building exercises.

In 2020, UNDP supported the establishment and/or empowerment of inclusive community networks (involving women, youth, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups) to promote safety-awareness, including IED (improvised explosive device) risk education in a gender- and age-sensitive, and inclusive manner. Involving the networks helped tailor community safety-awareness materials to the differentiated needs of population groups, addressing discrimination, exclusion and other drivers of fragility in addition to the threat posed by IEDs. The community networks will be identified in partnership with civil society organizations and local councils, building on existing community structures where appropriate.

UNDP worked with civil society actors, including local media and women leaders, to enhance their engagement with local authorities in addressing community safety needs. They will receive further capacity building support to better understand ‘community safety’, advance their dialogue and communication skills as local peacebuilders and agents of change. These efforts will include psycho-social support, recognizing that local communities may have experienced violence and trauma that impact their ability to engage with security actors. UNDP will facilitate regular dialogues between community champions and local authorities, aiming to ensure participation and accountability of the latter. Initially, the dialogues will focus on the issue of IEDs, but will then expand to other community safety needs.

The project will also strengthen justice and security institutions in Yemen to improve service delivery in response to community safety needs. The principal institutional partner will be Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC), with additional participation of a police Family Protection Department (FPD). Mostly staffed with female police officers, FPDs will be at the frontline of community outreach, particularly to women and children, offering them improved access to security and justice.


  • 10 consultations and follow-up sessions with community champions in Hadramawt – Mukalla and Taizz.
  • 500 manuals on IED risk education published and distributed. Standard operating procedures on IED developed and distributed among Yemeni police and YEMAC.
  • 2 training courses on IED safe handling delivered to Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC) in Hadramawt and Aden.



In 2020, UNDP’s focus in the Asia-Pacific region was on the unprecedented challenges in terms of justice, human rights and security arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. UNDP worked with judiciaries across the region to keep the courts functioning during lockdowns through virtual court hearings; enabled legal aid services to be provided online, especially to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV); supported National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to reach out to their regional offices through online platforms and to respond to the needs of the marginalized groups which were most affected by the pandemic; and supplied personal protective equipment (PPE) to institutions across the justice and security sectors. UNDP also worked with NHRIs, civil society organizations (CSOs) and others to counter disinformation, stigma, and discrimination arising from or exacerbated by the pandemic.

UNDP’s Business and Human Rights team reacted quickly to the pandemic in producing a rapid self-assessment toolkit on Human Rights Due Diligence and COVID-19 to guide companies in managing their human rights risks specifically related to the pandemic, which was immediately adopted by a number of global business human rights associations, translated in eleven languages, downloaded over 7,800 times from UNDP’s website alone, and used by hundreds of companies across three continents.

At the same time, reflecting the limited knowledge of legal rights and human rights across the region, with persistent obstacles to access to justice including legal services which are unaffordable to many, UNDP continued to support the provision of legal aid, legal awareness, informal dispute resolution and community policing, all underpinned by a human rights approach. With programming specifically designed to achieving sustainable peace, the focus was also on resolving key conflict drivers such as housing, land, and property. UNDP’s work continued to emphasize support to the most vulnerable groups, including internally displaced persons and refugees, as well as women and girls, particularly with respect to SGBV survivors.


In Afghanistan, UNDP supported national justice and policing intuitions to deliver better justice and rule of law services to citizens. By facilitating the transfer from one payroll system to another, UNDP supported the efforts of Afghan National Police (ANP) to ensure timely and fair remuneration for around 114,000 ANP officers and General Directorate for Prisons and Detention Centers officers in all 34 provinces, enabling the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) to maintain a stable ANP force on the ground. In 2020, police payroll marked a major milestone, ensuring that MoIA electronic payroll system was functional nationwide.

Moreover, UNDP helped the MoIA re-establish a police emergency call-center and improve police responses. In consultation with the MoIA, UNDP supported the design and the fulfilment of technology needs for the Police Emergency Response System which will provide a critical life-saving public service and help improve public trust and confidence in the police, as well as the broader rule of law sector across the country. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions, UNDP supported the Supreme Court in establishing an online trial system. Standard operating procedure was developed and approved to provide a legal basis for online trials.

UNDP developed two mechanisms of legal aid provision for poor and vulnerable that will benefit more than 3,600 people in 22 provinces in 2021. In addition, four law clinics were established in Afghanistan in 2020 with UNDP’s support, through its partnership with the Ministry of Higher Education. 190 students, including 19 females, were enrolled in clinical legal education programmes.

UNDP and MoIA, along with Turkish Sivas Police Training Academy (SPTA), launched the first specialized training programme in criminal investigations for 248 female police officers to enable effective investigation into the cases that involve women in their respective Police Districts in Kabul and other provinces.

To support the intro-Afghan peace negotiations and provide technical assistance to policymakers, UNDP, in partnership with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, produced seven position papers on women’s rights, freedom of expression, and other key human rights issues. To tackle corruption in Afghanistan, UNDP supported civil society interventions that identified 447 problems and 105 corruption cases in Laghman, Kunar and Nangarhar. 131 problems were resolved due to coordinated advocacy efforts.


  • Remuneration for about 114,000 Afghan National Police officers and General Directorate for Prisons and Detention Centers officers was provided in 34 provinces through UNDP’s support to a payroll system.
  • 3,600 poor and vulnerable people in 22 provinces will benefit from legal aid services through two newly developed legal aid provision mechanisms handled by the Ministry of Justice and civil society.
  • 248 female national police officers were trained on specialized criminal investigation procedures, law enforcement, computing, physical training, first aid, dispute resolution, and community policing in Turkey.


In Bangladesh, UNDP piloted and hit a record with a project ‘My Courts’ implemented to respond to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladeshi prisons. The country saw an unprecedented closure of courts, and detainees, even those who had met the prerequisites, were deprived of their right to apply for bail. As of February 2020, 88,000 people were deprived of liberty in Bangladesh – almost two times more than the official prison capacity numbers. Over 80% of them were pre-trial detainees, with one doctor allocated per 1,000 inmates. Against this backdrop, UNDP launched a platform for virtual courts. The initiative received immediate support at the highest level, with the president of the country passing an ordinance on virtual courts in less than two weeks. The platform enabled 42,894 bail applications and 14,911 virtual hearings. 10,523 individuals, including female inmates, were released on bail, setting a record in the history of Bangladesh. The prison population was thereby reduced by 11.95% in just three months, significantly decreasing the risk of COVID-19 infections in prison. Moreover, this UNDP-led initiative unleashed much-needed novel thinking and motivated both the government and the people to transform the courts, making use of information technology. 

Furthermore, to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP, with partners’ support, provided solidarity food package assistance to a total of 21,267 households, and distributed personal protective equipment (PPE) among human rights defenders, journalists, activists and young leaders.

Targeting youth, UNDP managed to achieve a substantial change in perceptions of women’s rights and masculinity. Over 3,000 students participated in interactive sessions within a school-based ‘Brave Men’ campaign. As a result, their level of human rights awareness with a focus on women’s rights increased by over 80%, compared to a 48.8% baseline. In addition, UNDP’s Human Rights and Justice Programme in Bangladesh established a wide network of young human rights champions who then led awareness raising initiatives in their communities enabling over 20,000 ethnic and excluded minority representatives to claim their rights and access local government services.

In Bangladesh, UNDP’s Global Programme on the Rule of Law and Human Rights supports the Peaceful District Programme in Cox’s Bazar. With certain restrictions due to the pandemic, in 2020, the programme focused on improving judicial services and promoting community participation. Through high-level consultations, UNDP identified key steps to ensure better access to justice in Cox’s Bazar District in Bangladesh, including through digitalization and capacity building. It also identified training needs for the Magistrate, court officials and the prosecutors. The Programme ensured community participation, especially for women and in rural areas. Six consultations were conducted for inclusive local planning during which 307 community members agreed to implement 22 new projects.


  • In May-August 2020, 10,523 persons deprived of liberty, including women inmates, were released on bail, setting a record in the history of Bangladesh.
  • 2,505 young people received training to become leaders in the communities to advance human rights and increase access to local services.
  • 90 participants from the justice sector attended 2 dialogue sessions to elaborate recommendations to ensure justice and reduce case backlogs.


In Myanmar, UNDP continued implementing the project on Strengthening Accountability and the Rule of Law (SARL) with the aim to enhance public trust in state institutions at a critical time in the country’s transition.

In 2020, SARL’s legal empowerment programme reached 17,370 people (44% women) in Rakhine and Kachin States through nine national partners from civil society. The project was extended to Northern Shan State to improve access to land rights for a further 2,689 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities across six townships. In addition, three knowledge products were completed: i) a baseline assessment on housing, land and property (HLP) rights in Northern Shan, ii) field research into women’s HLP rights in Kachin, iii) a Resource Book for Paralegals engaged in HLP case work.

Extensive media campaign was launched, including through the production of five animated videos for social media and an 18-month series of web articles and podcasts exploring land, business, and human rights issues. In parallel, UNDP supported trainings for regional journalists in investigative reporting. Besides, an animated short film was produced for social media in four languages to counter stigma associated with COVID-19. In total, SARL’s media activities reached more than 3.5 million people in 2020.

The project recruited a Senior Human Rights Advisor to work at the headquarters of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC). Supporting the continuing professional development of the MNHRC Commissioners, UNDP hosted the first of a series of orientation sessions on substantive human rights issues. Addressing the role of business in human rights promotion and the associated roles of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), the session was held in partnership with the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business and UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub, with inputs from the Thailand NHRI. SARL supported the MNHRC and its field offices with videoconferencing as well as other information and computer equipment to ensure business continuity during the pandemic.


  • 21,053 people (9,250 women, 11,803 men) were reached across 43 townships and 6 states/regions within the UNDP’s project for Strengthening Accountability and the Rule of Law.
  • 306 new community paralegals were trained; 223 court cases were supported; 1,432 land registration cases were filed.
  • 3.5 million views of the project’s media content; 530,000 direct social media contacts for the National Anti-Corruption campaign; over 50 awareness raising videos on various topics were produced.


In Nepal, UNDP continued providing guidance to the process of reforming the legal aid system in partnership with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs (MOLJPA), the Nepal Bar, the Office of the Attorney, civil society organizations (CSOs), private sector and sub-national authorities. The flagship project intervention focused on the dissemination of the Integrated Legal Aid Policy and the use of Pro Bono Guidelines. A key milestone was reached in 2020 with the approval of a draft Legal Aid Bill and related standard operating procedure (SOP) for the National Legal Aid Secretariat. The drafting process was strongly participatory from the outset to ensure ownership of legal aid actors, promote democracy, accountability and transparency in the justice sector institutions. One more round of scrutiny is to follow in 2021.

In 2020, with the help of various partners, UNDP provided legal counselling and support to 482 individuals, including 234 women. The cases included instances of domestic violence, property repossession, vital registration, harmful social practices, discrimination. UNDP’s work on legal aid was underpinned by legal awareness and legal outreach in 12 districts carried out by 10 partner CSOs that reached 3,421 people, including 2,341 women.

Support was provided to the sub-national government in law-making process with nearly 25 bills drafted due to UNDP’s technical expertise. Also, several assessments were conducted to identify challenges for the implementation of protective laws. The results helped the government adopt clear steps to overcome these challenges.

Efforts continued to build capacity of the Judicial Committees (JC) as the central mechanism of justice delivery and justice coordination at local level. Helpdesks were established as model mechanisms in three Judicial Committees in three provinces to facilitate access to legal remedies. In addition, a helpdesk was established at the Women Holding and Isolation Center in Dhangadhi sub-metropolitan city, Kailali. This particular helpdesk provided not only legal but also psychosocial support. Trainings on delivering justice in times of crisis were provided to 122 JC officials (including 91 women) based on the Practitioners’ Guidelines specifically developed by UNDP.

Opportunities for women, law students and lawyers from marginalized communities to avail of scholarships and legal internship programmes were sustained even in times of COVID-19. Overall, a deliberate focus on women was mainstreamed across all project interventions related to the rule of law. Women constituted 56.8% of the 8,541 individuals who benefitted from the project’s activities.

Finally, UNDP built on the work done in the previous 12 months on establishing a policy framework for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by partnering with the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce to conduct an assessment of the readiness of 50+ companies to conduct heightened Human Rights Due Diligence during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • 160 law students (including 79 women) were able to test and apply their knowledge by serving within local governments, Judicial Committees, law enforcement agencies, prisons, civil society organizations and schools.
  • 572 members of the Attorney General’s Office (including 150 women) underwent an advanced training on criminal law and criminal procedure. 98% of the government attorneys received advanced training on the use of information technology.
  • 482 individuals, including 234 women, received legal counselling and support, including in cases on domestic violence, property repossession, vital registration, harmful social practices, discrimination.


In Pakistan, UNDP intensified efforts to secure peace and stability, increasing access to justice through formal and informal justice mechanisms, as well as to strengthen justice institutions, building on the cooperation with the EU, US-INL, the Government of Japan, and in partnership with a wide range of government institutions, judicial academies, law schools and civil society organizations. Women’s empowerment and gender-responsive rule of law is at the heart of UNDP Pakistan’s rule of law interventions and intrinsic to its development approach.

The COVID-19 pandemic had significant human rights implications over 2020, exacerbating inequalities and disproportionately affecting already marginalized or vulnerable groups, including women, children, people working in the informal sector and persons with disabilities. To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on Pakistan’s most vulnerable groups, UNDP, in cooperation with the Ministry of Human Rights, presented a multi-sector analysis of the government’s response to the pandemic from a human rights perspective, encouraging the integration of a health emergency lens in Pakistan’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. Despite the challenges, this strategic document was developed in 2020 through UNDP-facilitated consultations across Pakistan’s provinces and territories involving government officials, civil society, private sector and labour activists.

UNDP Pakistan, with support from German Federal Foreign Office, takes an integrated and rights-based approach to its human rights and social inclusion interventions, contextualized to Pakistan’s decentralized governance structure. Targeting both rights holders – with a focus on traditionally marginalized groups, including women, transgender persons, and communities in fragile contexts – and duty bearers, UNDP organizes information campaigns to increase the capacities of state institutions to act in line with Pakistan’s human rights commitments. In 2020, over 10,000 people, including 6,048 men, 3,685 women and 388 marginalized individuals benefitted from legal awareness sessions. 36 female law students and practicing lawyers received scholarships to enhance their professional development and career opportunities.

UNDP enjoys strong strategic partnership with the Federal Ministry of Human Rights (MOHR) and provincial human rights departments. To support these bodies in their efforts to protect and promote human rights, UNDP developed four Provincial Human Rights Information Management Systems (HRIMS) to effectively track human rights implementation and consolidate treaty-body reporting in Pakistan’s devolved governance context.


  • Over 10,000 people, including 6,048 men, 3,685 women and 388 marginalized individuals benefitted from legal awareness sessions. 36 female law students and practicing lawyers received scholarships to enhance their professional development and career opportunities.
  • National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights was developed through UNDP-facilitated consultations across Pakistan’s provinces and territories, involving government officials, civil society, private sector and labour activists.
  • 4 Provincial Human Rights Information Management Systems were developed to effectively track human rights implementation and consolidate treaty-body reporting.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, to ensure uninterrupted access to justice services, UNDP pioneered remote court hearings. This initiative ensured the major shift in the sector that had been resisting digital transformation for almost two decades. Within the two weeks of national lockdown, UNDP facilitated the release of a judicial circular prioritizing the urgent hearing of bail applications, notwithstanding the fact that courts were non-operational. The circular was adopted through extensive technical discussions with the Chief Justice, the Judicial Service Commission, the Ministry of Justice, the Legal Aid Commission and the Prisons Department. The initiative helped minimize overcrowding in detention centres and provided immediate access to justice for persons who had been detained for violating the curfew.

The successful piloting of remote court hearings, initiated and supported by UNDP, resulted in the Cabinet of Ministers granting approval to expand remote hearings to courts and prisons island-wide, thereby eliminating inordinate delays within the judicial sector. In Sri Lanka, it used to take on average 17 years to complete a criminal case. The support was also secured for the expansion of remote testimony to the Government Analysts and Judicial Medical Officers, and UNDP was requested to conduct a legislative review to identify entry points for such an expansion.

As another response measure to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP conducted a rapid needs assessment of operational shelters for women, coordinating the relief efforts with the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and Social Security. As a result, UNDP expanded its grassroot outreach to victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) by strengthening partnerships with civil society organizations to provide online counselling, legal assistance and court representation, as well as raising public awareness and promoting support hotlines for SGBV survivors in 15 districts.

A premier study on “Achieving Gender Equality in the Sri Lanka Police: an Analysis of Women Officers” was launched in September 2020. The study was conducted in consultation with the National Police Commission (NPC) and with technical assistance from UNDP. Its purpose was to identify challenges in achieving gender equality in the Sri Lankan police force. 80 priority recommendations were made to be further implemented by the police, including amending the existing requirement for female police officers to be of a certain height. In addition, the study had its immediate effect on strengthening the individual and institutional capacity of Women and Children’s desks at police stations, the use of gender-sensitive approaches and minimizing disparities of female representation in Sri Lankan police.


  • Over 10,000 petitions for bail were heard in 23 courts and 10 prisons as a result of the UNDP-pioneered remote court hearings.
  • 12,000 indigent female clients of the Legal Aid Commission, ordinarily reliant on court-ordered maintenance, received government financial relief packages due to UNDP’s technical collaboration with the Legal Aid Commission.
  • 17,000 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence benefitted from the support to shelters, legal assistance, counselling and judicial representation through CSOs, as well as the emergency COVID-19 response (personal protective equipment, food parcels, in-kind grants).


In Timor-Leste, given the staggering statistics of domestic violence, UNDP focuses its justice portfolio on gender justice by i) enhancing access to justice for women who survived gender-based violence (GBV), ii) strengthening gender mainstreaming in the sector (survivor-centered and responsive criminal justice processes, women’s representation in the legal profession), and iii) supporting correctional facilities in line with the human rights standards and female inmates’ special needs. UNDP implements its activities in cooperation with key government partners, civil society organizations (CSOs) and the private sector (law firms and legal and social enterprises), as well in partnership with sister UN agencies. The funding is supported by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), UNDP’s Global Programme, and complements the EU-UN Joint Programme on intimate partner violence.

Despite the fact that domestic violence is legislated as a public crime in Timor-Leste, women themselves and local authorities lack adequate knowledge of their rights. Domestic violence (DV) cases often fall under ‘arbitration’ by local authorities or spiritual leaders (the vast majority being men) as a family feud. Poor road connectivity in a hilly country exacerbates the isolation of the DV survivors. Against this backdrop, UNDP Timor-Leste reached out to remote villages to raise awareness on the Law Against Domestic Violence and referral pathways as well as to conduct gender-sensitivity training. 71% of 158 participants (46% women) in six villages have shown the increase in their knowledge of gender equality and prevention of GBV according to their pre- and post-evaluation forms. Both male and female respondents found the workshops useful and requested more trainings in the near future. While women’s participation was relatively high (46%), the partner CSO reflected that many women in the villages could not partake due to the lack of family support and commitment to house chores and child-rearing.

UNDP continued its collaboration with the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) and support to its Access to Justice Clinics (AJC). Such cooperation assisted the PDO to build capacity to facilitate mediation by their in-house mediators. UNDP will enable the PDO to gradually take full responsibility for the AJC operations and focus on their sustainability. In 2020, 36 civil cases (35 land disputes and 1 other civil case), involving 76 disputants (including 29 women, 38%) were registered under the Access to Justice Clinics. Out of those, 14 land cases (involving 29 disputants, including 13 women) were facilitated through mediation, and three reached an agreement.

In 2021, UNDP Timor-Leste will focus on both institutional capacity development and grassroots support in accessing justice for SGBV survivors.


  • 164 community members (62 women) participated in the workshop on the Formal Justice System; 158 individuals (73 women) participated in the workshop on gender equality and gender-based violence as well as community-based mediation. 71% of the participants increased their knowledge of gender equality and GBV prevention.
  • 36 civil cases (35 land disputes and 1 other civil case) were registered under the Access to Justice Clinics of the Public Defender’s Office, involving 76 disputants (29 women). 14 land cases were facilitated for mediation; 3 land cases of those mediated reached an agreement (21% resolution rate).
  • Over 70 justice professionals, including sitting judges, prosecutors, public defenders, national police, and academia, participated in the Ministry of Justice’s conference on Gender Equality: Challenges and Reflections.

Europe and Central Asia


In 2020, the region experienced shocks including the COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, and challenges to fundamental freedoms. These crises have collectively jeopardised previously achieved positive progress towards ensuring the rule of law, security, and human rights protection.

Lack of healthcare access, insufficient income support and social protection undermined public trust in governments. People who had already been vulnerable before the pandemic were pushed even further behind. Individuals with lower income, the elderly, women and girls, migrant workers, displaced communities, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQI people have been disproportionately affected. Some limitations imposed to stop the spread of the virus also restricted freedom of movement, freedom of expression, and the right to peaceful assembly. The right to privacy was endangered by digital surveillance tools deployed to reinforce curfews and track those infected. These tools also raised significant concerns regarding millions of people’s data protection.

Parts of the region continued to face inter-ethnic and cross-border tensions, which perpetuated polarization and activated frozen armed conflicts in the absence of a political settlement.

In this context, UNDP promoted access to justice through supporting access to free legal aid in Albania, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan; and developing the capacity of the judiciary and judicial reforms in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kosovo*, including e-courts in Armenia and Montenegro.

UNDP helped the groups most affected by the pandemic with a clear understanding of people and communities’ needs. The assistance included assessing the pandemic’s impact on human rights in Georgia, Serbia, and campaigns in collaboration with civil society promoting the rights of vulnerable communities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kosovo*. UNDP helped launch digital services to support gender-based violence survivors, e.g., mobile applications in Montenegro and Uzbekistan, virtual referral mechanism in Serbia, and hotlines in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine.

Equal importance was given to empowering civil society, youth, and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to play a more significant role in crisis response and address social disruptions. UNDP continued to support regional approaches to small arms and light weapons (SALW) control and strengthened regional accountability for war crimes in the Western Balkans.

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).


In Armenia, UNDP supported the government in developing its first e-portal for psychological testing to accompany judicial recruitment process, as part of the digitalization process and to underpin judicial integrity. In addition, UNDP contributed to the elaboration of a full package of legal mechanisms on conducting psychological testing as well as to the design framework of the e-court/case-management system, including the mechanisms for interoperability.

With the support of its Global Policy Network (GPN), UNDP enhanced institutionalization and operationalization of the newly established Corruption Prevention Commission – through expert support, experience sharing and the design of the strategic packages. Jointly with partners, UNDP developed the Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) methodology to start pilot assessments in government agencies. The first ever, anti-corruption online training modules for civil servants were developed and integrated into the training curricula for civil servants. In addition, a special module for integrity focal points was developed with relevant trainings conducted.

In 2020, the amendments to the police law drafted with the expertise of UNDP’s Human Rights Project came into force. The amendments enabled setting-up the recording of police interviews in ten pilot police stations. Overall, the police reform in Armenia was supported through putting in place mechanisms and tools to assess the costs of the reform and to define the selection procedure for trainers and recruits of the new Patrol Police Service which is yet to be established. In addition, a comprehensive human rights training for a team of police trainers was supported by UNDP’s Global Policy Network.

The capacity of the National Human Rights Institution was further strengthened, including with regards to the implementation of its mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, UNDP is developing online SDG Monitor Platform to visualize Armenia’s progress towards achieving SDG 16 targets. Advanced features such as an interactive dashboard allow to evaluate the overall progress as well as on the specific indicators, based on real-time data.


  • Over 40 social media profiles of former and current state officials, with over 60,000 posts and around 700.000 comments were analysed with regards to the indicators of the SDG 16. The analysis helped reveal the proportion of population who believe decision-making is inclusive and responsive.
  • UNDP supported the government in developing the first-ever e-portal for psychological testing to accompany judicial recruitment process, as part of its digitalization and to underpin judicial integrity.
  • The amendments to the Law on Police drafted with the expertise of UNDP’s Human Rights Project came into force.


In Belarus, UNDP focused on protecting the rights of people living with or affected by HIV. The activities were centered around such goals as the decriminalization of HIV transmission; ensuring that HIV key groups have access to legal aid, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and political instability; combatting stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and people who use drugs.

In 2020, UNDP provided support to the Ministry of Health in finalizing the Legal Environment Assessment (LEA) to identify challenges current legislation poses to people living with or affected by HIV, as well as to provide recommendations on how to improve the legal framework and to ensure non-discrimination. In addition, UNDP engaged the National Centre for Legislation and Legal Research (National Centre) to develop legislative proposals for decriminalization of the HIV transmission in Belarus. By the end of the reporting period, both the LEA previous results and the first stage of proposals by the National Centre were prepared for discussion with the Ministry of Health, respective state bodies and members of the working group on LEA.

To guarantee that people affected by HIV have unimpeded access to free legal aid, UNDP maintained an online platform for legal consultations and monitoring. UNDP’s support included both technical resources for digital upgrade of the platform as well and the engagement of a legal expert to ensure timely qualified assistance. Fifty consultations were provided through this platform in 2020, with anonymity considerations.

UNDP seeks to strengthen the role of media in creating favourable social environment for discussing issues related to HIV and drug use. It is essential that media uses neutral and correct references to people and groups affected by HIV, avoids hate speech, raises awareness of the public, contributes to combatting stigma and discrimination. In 2020, UNDP engaged in production of videos and booklets, as well as in the development of the online training sessions for journalists in Belarus.


  • Support to the legislative changes to eliminate criminalization of HIV transmission based on the outcomes of the Legal Environment Assessment.
  • 50 free-of-charge legal consultations to the HIV key groups were provided in 2020 through the online platform maintained by UNDP.
  • Awareness-raising materials (3 videos, 2 sets of booklets) and 2 mini-courses at the educational online platform were developed for the journalists to combat stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and people who use drugs.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNDP focused on accelerating progress in ensuring accountability for war crimes committed in the region. Additionally, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP undertook research and prepared an intervention in a specific area of human rights protection.

Within the framework of the Regional War Crimes Project, UNDP-led initiative resulted in the establishment of the regional co-operation platform. The platform serves as a space where law enforcement officials from the Balkans meet to discuss cross-border cooperation, address specific cases and exchange information. Regular peer-to-peer meetings of the prosecutors’ offices with rotating national co-hosting allowed to build trust, led to gradually increasing national ownership and secured sustainability. The discussions take place under the UNDP’s facilitation and with the participation of the UN Mechanisms, followed by the bilateral and multilateral operational meetings.

More broadly, UNDP coherent activities in the Western Balkans led to the intensification of the cross-border cooperation with regards to the investigations: in 2020, the number of requests Serbia sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina for assistance in war crimes cases almost doubled compared to the previous year. Processing of the requests has also improved allowing backlog reductions. 2020 saw progress in over 70 war crimes cases, in different phases, reviewed and accelerated through mutual case transfers or evidence sharing, including some of the most complex cases in the national jurisprudences.

In addition, there is evidence within the Regional War Crimes Project about the rising trust of victims of war crimes in the criminal justice system. Public acknowledgment of war crimes and support for accountability has widened across the region. With UNDP’s support, communication with survivors and their families from the side of the prosecutors’ offices and other institutions has improved and intensified, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the victim community is the largest and most sensitive. To ensure more progress in achieving justice for war crimes, UNDP facilitated regional cooperation of victim and witness support (VWS) services.

To respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19, UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted a rapid assessment of the pandemic impact on the rule of law, security, and justice systems in the country. The detailed assessment identified severe unpreparedness of the government institutions to cope with the crises, and thus unmasked serious challenges for human rights protection. Based on the specific findings, UNDP elaborated the concept for the roadmap to introduce e-monitoring system as an alternative to imprisonment in the country’s entity Republika Srpska. This initiative has enabled UNDP to look into other rule of law issues and explore possibilities for future interventions in the field of human rights and access to justice during the pandemic.


  • Almost doubled number of requests Serbia sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina for assistance in war crimes cases (107 requests in 2020 compared to 61 in 2019 and 43 in 2018) illustrate intensified cross-border cooperation with regards to the investigations.
  • The backlog of war crimes cases in the Western Balkans reduced by over 70 cases, in different phases, reviewed and accelerated through mutual case transfers or evidence sharing, including some of the most complex cases in the national jurisprudences.
  • One assessment report prepared on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the rule of law and human rights.


In Georgia, UNDP responded to an upsurge in COVID-19 cases among internally displaced persons (IDPs) and distributed hygienic and sanitary supplies in 100 collective centers for IDPs in Shida Kartli, Imereti and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regions. An NGO, Charity Humanitarian Center Abkhazeti had conducted a research to identify collective centers where this emergency intervention was required. One hundred centers were selected as the ones hosting mostly elderly men and women, and other individuals from risk groups, including socially vulnerable people living beyond the poverty line. Each sanitary package included masks and face shields, surface disinfectant and disinfection doormats, hand sanitizer with wall dispensers, and antibacterial hand soap. In addition, UNDP supported regular disinfection of the selected centers to limit the spread of the virus.

Aiming to expand access to legal services for conflict-affected women and girls during the pandemic, UNDP provided information and computer technology (ICT) equipment to Legal Aid Service bureaus in three regions with the largest share of internally displaced persons and conflict-affected communities: Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Imereti and Shida Kartli. This initiative was implemented in partnership with a UNDP project ‘Expanding agency voice and improving the socio-economic outlook for conflict-affected women during the COVID-19 crisis’. The Legal Aid Service is mandated to offer free counselling and legal services in conflict and crisis situations, including to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. The new equipment will enable legal counsellors to provide remote legal services in the current pandemic conditions. 300 IDPs (240 women and 60 men) living in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Imereti and Shida Kartli will benefit from legal assistance through the UNDP’s partnership with the Legal Aid Service.

Empowering youth is one of UNDP global priorities. In Georgia, though a partner organization “ATINATI”, UNDP supported the launch of an online training programme for conflict-affected youth in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. The course does not only provide comprehensive knowledge on peacebuilding and human rights, effective communication and conflict resolution, but is set to develop entrepreneurial skills to help young people find jobs. The training will continue through April 2021, with eight sessions scheduled for a total of 45 participants.

To ensure equal opportunities for education, UNDP issued a grant to a non-profit crowdfunding platform Project Charte that will equip at least 20 conflict-affected young people and their families with laptops, internet access and additional educational resources. The grant will also serve to build the capacity of the organization to support its efforts to build an international crowdfunding platform in Georgia.


  • Approximately 1,000 residents of 100 collective centers for IDPs were provided with hygienic and sanitary supplies.
  • 20 conflict-affected young people and their families will be provided with laptops, internet access and additional educational resources to promote online education during the pandemic.
  • 300 IDPs (240 women and 60 men) living in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Imereti and Shida Kartli will benefit from legal assistance through the UNDP’s partnership with the Legal Aid Service in Georgia.


In Kazakhstan, UNDP continued the capacity building of the reinvigorated National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) enabling it to cover more institutions and providing more analytical capabilities for data management. In 2020, UNDP strengthened the potential of 114 NPM participants from the regions through on-line trainings on the specifics of preventive visits in different types of closed institutions including prisons, centers for children, elderly, people with disabilities and mental illnesses.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the imposition of related restrictions, the trainings had a special focus on monitoring visits in the circumstances of the pandemic. During these sessions, the participants learned how to plan such visits, how to communicate with people in charge of detention facilities and how to interview individuals who are isolated from the society. The delivery of the trainings increased the effectiveness of preventive visits, improved the quality of reporting of the regional NPM groups, and had an encouraging effect on government agencies towards preventing human rights violations. This was also due to the UNDP’s accelerated outreach work that increased public awareness on the activities of the NPM and the Ombudsperson’s Office on torture prevention in places of detention.

In 2020, for the needs of the High Judicial Council of Kazakhstan UNDP arranged pilot testing of a competence evaluation model in the system of selection and promotion of judges, aimed to improve the recruitment process and increase the efficiency of the judiciary. In 2021, it is planned to incorporate this model into the selection process.

Another pilot project in Kazakhstan was for the police. In 2020, UNDP helped operationalize the Police Modernization Road Map. As a result, the community police model was successfully piloted in Karaganda region and could be scaled up in four other districts across the country. Law enforcement officials and other stakeholders in the pilot localities were equipped with critical skill sets for community policing.  Further support was provided on aligning the capacities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to deliver on the police modernization effort.

To increase the effectiveness of the judiciary in Kazakhstan, UNDP conducted a comprehensive analysis of the workload of all the courts in the country over the past six years. The analysis considered the location of the courts and the individual workload of judges (more than 2,400 judges and almost 14 million criminal, civil and administrative cases). As a result, a more accurate Court Map of Kazakhstan was developed to predict public needs in courts and improve judges’ caseload management. UNDP expert team made specific recommendations on how to increase the overall efficiency of the court system by changing the allocation of judges and merging certain courts to ensure better access to justice for all in the country.


  • Almost 120 participants of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) benefitted from the training sessions on visiting closed institutions during the pandemic.
  • Raising awareness campaign that reached over 70,000 people strengthened the NPM potential and had an encouraging effect on state bodies.
  • UNDP analyzed almost 14 million criminal, civil and administrative cases, and the workload of more than 2,400 judges in all courts in Kazakhstan over the past 6 years. As a result, a more accurate Court Map of Kazakhstan was developed to predict public needs in courts and improve judges’ caseload management.

Kyrgyz Republic

In Kyrgyz Republic, the outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in the intertwined health emergency and socio-economic crisis. To respond, the government adopted far-reaching emergency measures that limited constitutional rights and freedoms. To restore and maintain people’s access to justice and remedy, UNDP partnered with the Ministry of Emergency and the Ministry of Justice to establish a legal aid hotline. During the state of emergency, 1,068 legal consultations were provided, including to 653 women and 25 people with disabilities. Further, UNDP supported the development of the guidelines for law enforcement and justice authorities in the time of COVID-19 and distributed personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitary kits to the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Office of the General Prosecutor and the Bar Association.

In 2020, UNDP supported national efforts to promote gender equality and address violence against women and girls. A permanent Council on Women’s Rights and Prevention of Gender-based Violence (GBV) was established and institutionalized in the structure of the Kyrgyz Parliament, the first ever mandated body of such kind comprising deputies, state officials, women’s rights and civil society activists. The Council is expected to strengthen the Parliament’s oversight functions to monitor and inform policy and law-making processes, as well as foster a climate of inclusive civic engagement to address GBV.

Furthermore, UNDP provided technical assistance to support the drafting and the adoption of critical pieces of legislation to advance women’s rights in the country. In particular, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code strengthened protective mechanisms for survivors of domestic violence, providing for the detention of suspects, pending investigation, for 48 hours. Also, revisions to the Law on Alimony were endorsed to increase legal redress for women in relation to unpaid alimony. Finally, UNDP supported the parliamentary working group to prepare a draft legal aid law to extend free legal aid to SGBV (sexual and gender-based violence) survivors.

More broadly, UNDP continued to provide technical assistance to the ongoing legal and judicial reform agenda, pursuing a general policy of depenalization, with an increased focus on legal aid, probation, and alternatives to detention. Justice sector coordination and policy-making mechanisms were strengthened, including through a more effective Expert Working Group on Monitoring and Judicial and Legal Reform of the President’s Office. In line with a comprehensive criminal justice implementation plan, a monitoring framework was elaborated to measure progress against reform’s targets; 69 laws were analysed, and amendments recommended to align them with the new Criminal Code. To support Kyrgyz criminal justice institutions in upholding human rights standards, UNDP developed a compendium on the novelties of judicial and legal reform, and organized trainings for 180 prosecutors and 103 lawyers on the new Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.


  • 3,718 legal consultations for 1,156 women, 960 men and 36 people with disabilities were provided by the Free Legal Aid Centres. Over 4,000 people benefitted from legal services during the Free Legal Aid Decade in November-December 2020.
  • 180 prosecutors and 103 practicing lawyers were trained on the new Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code; 59 judges, defence lawyers and prosecutors gained new knowledge of justice procedures related to people with disabilities, and 61 judges, prosecutors and defence attorneys improved their skills on restorative mediation in criminal justice.
  • 70 prosecutors and 40 police officers received training on international best practices related to police and prosecutorial oversight of SGBV cases as well as on gender-sensitive practices and a survivor-centered approach.


In Ukraine, UNDP activities within the Global Programme on the Rule of Law and Human Rights were centered on preventing and countering sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), supporting the Ombudsperson’s Office in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensuring the improved quality of free legal aid in the country.

In 2020, 4,700 men and women living in distant communities in Ukraine were able to address the Ombudsperson’s Office through the regional network supported by UNDP. Against the backdrop of the new human rights challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP in Ukraine supported the Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights in monitoring how human rights were observed during the quarantine. Specifically, the regional network of the Ombudsperson’s Office conducted a monitoring of access to public information about protective measures against COVID-19 in all regions of Ukraine. UNDP experts provided recommendations on how local authorities can improve access to public information.

To tackle a complex problem of domestic and gender-based violence in Ukraine and to reveal the obstacles for survivors in seeking justice, UNDP conducted a comprehensive research, mapping all the steps in a legal labyrinth of obtaining urgent restraining orders for offenders from the police and civil courts. Identified shortcomings allowed UNDP to tailor its programming and launch projects ranging from awareness raising campaigns and trainings for various stakeholders to creating safe spaces for the survivors. The key activities included the development of comics for children explaining what domestic violence is and how to look for help; opening 16 ‘green rooms’ in police stations where children who went through or witnessed domestic violence may be interviewed with a minimum effect on their psycho-emotional state; establishment of four shelters and two day-centers for the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and domestic violence. 900 women and children are expected to benefit from the new shelters and day centers in conflict-affected Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Within its assistance to the Free Legal Aid System in Ukraine as a part of the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, UNDP supported the development and piloting of the system of quality control of the provided free primary and secondary legal aid (peer review). The Programme developed the quality control system for civil and administrative cases, as well as provided the overview of best practices from other countries.

In 2020, UNDP launched a new partnership with the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation and enhanced innovative approaches to promoting human rights and the rule of law. Also, UNDP conducted its second community hackathon in the conflict-affected eastern parts of the country with a purpose to overcome digital divide and assist locals, including the most vulnerable ones, to benefit from e-government services to protect their rights.


  • 4 shelters and 2 day-centers for SGBV/DV survivors were created and are operational with UNDP support.
  • 16 “green rooms” in police stations were opened where children-survivors or children – witnesses of domestic violence may be interviewed with psychosocial considerations.
  • 20 advisors of the Free Legal Aid System of Ukraine (paralegals) gained knowledge of SGBV-related issues and will provide basic legal and informational support to the SGBV and DV survivors in the conflict area in eastern Ukraine.
  • 14,700 men and women living in remote communities were able to address the Ombudsperson’s Office through the regional network supported by UNDP.


In Uzbekistan, UNDP focused on improving the competence of judiciary in applying international human rights standards, on solidifying national human rights protection mechanisms and supporting SGBV (sexual and gender-based violence) survivors in accessing rehabilitation services and legal aid.

In 2020, with UNDP support, the discussions on effective judiciary and fair trial rights were held on the highest state level. A Presidential Decree was adopted ‘On Additional Measures to Further Improve the Activities of the Courts and Increase the Efficiency of Justice’, with a number of UNDP expert proposals reflected in the text.

Another achievement of 2020 was the adoption of the National Human Rights Strategy, following national consultations and draft reviews supported by UNDP in partnership with other UN agencies. Along with the Strategy, a Provision was adopted to ensure effective follow-up to individual appeals and the decisions of the UN Charter-based and Treaty Bodies. Accordingly, a parliamentary commission was established to oversee the Uzbekistan’s fulfilment of its international human rights obligations.

A number of capacity building activities were implemented to ensure effective application of the Decree and the Strategy. In cooperation with the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan, UNDP organized trainings for judges in Tashkent city, Tashkent, Syrdarya, Fergana, Samarkand, Bukhara, Nukus, Urgench regions to improve their knowledge of international human rights standards, with a focus on the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Convention against Torture (CAT) and Convention to Eliminate All Types of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). UNDP supported two other initiatives in partnership with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): (i) eight webinars for almost 500 representatives of judiciary and law enforcement on the functions of the UN Human Rights Committee with regards to individual communications and follow-up measures; (ii) support for the government in installing and maintaining the National Recommendations Tracking Database, with a purpose to facilitate the recording, tracking and reporting on the implementation of human rights recommendations.

UNDP provided guidance to national authorities in addressing sexual and gender-based violence. Over 1,000 representatives of ministries, mahallas, women’s shelters, and NGOs benefitted from the trainings on women’s empowerment and GBV (gender-based violence) prevention. In cooperation with the Gender Commission of the Senate, UNDP developed an e-Journal to track data on GBV cases and installed them in 197 women shelters. These shelters were also equipped with manuals for employees with guidance on how to recognize signs of violence and provide immediate support. Finally, UNDP supported the development of a mobile application “Najot” (Hope) that can help locate the nearest rehabilitation centers, contact the nearest women inspectors of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and provide online psychological, medical and legal support in GBV-related situations.

UNDP contributed to holding the major Human Right E-forum in Uzbekistan “Samarkand Web Forum on Youth Rights” in cooperation with partners and UN agencies. The Forum adopted a Samarkand Resolution on “Youth 2020: Global Solidarity, Sustainable Development and Human Rights”, which was presented as an official document of the UN General Assembly at its 74th session.


  • 2 key documents were adopted to strengthen the rule of law and enhance human rights protection: a Presidential Decree on the efficiency of justice and the National Human Rights Strategy.
  • By awarding micro-grants to 11 NGOs of people with disabilities, UNDP supported inclusive and innovative projects. At least 2,500 persons with disabilities, including 700 women, 600 young people, and 255 children benefitted from joint inclusive initiatives.
  • In partnership with OHCHR, UNDP supported 8 webinars on the follow-up to the UN Human Rights Council’s Views on individual appeals. Almost 500 judges and law enforcement agents improved their knowledge of the functions of the UN Human Rights Committee with regards to individual communications and follow up measures and activities.
  • 197 women shelters in 14 regions of Uzbekistan processed 14,849 appeals, of which 37% were related to domestic violence, including appeals from 18 boys and 168 men. Almost 10,000 women and girls received psychological, legal and medical support through UNDP-supported services.


In Kosovo, in response to the communication gap left by the COVID-19 context, especially with the general public, UNDP developed six awareness-raising videos in Albanian, Serbian, Turkish and Romani languages about COVID-19 impact, the role of institutions and protection measures. In addition, UNDP supported the Ombudsperson Institution, the National Institute of Public Health, and related NGOs in developing and implementing an awareness-raising campaign ‘Love and Care’ to combat stigma and discrimination of individuals affected by COVID-19 and provide information on the services available to the citizens who experienced discrimination. The campaign reached approximately 40,000 people.

In 2020, UNDP undertook efforts to empower youth to become human rights defenders. In facilitated settings, young people from all communities across Kosovo (K-Albanian, K-Serb, K-Turks, K-Roma) were proposing ways to ensure better engagement around such issues as language rights, the rights of non-majority communities, access to justice, countering hate speech, promoting equal rights for women and LGBTQI. These UNDP-led activities directly benefitted 117 high school students, 60% female, served as a confidence-building measure, and created a growing network of agents of change.   

UNDP continued its work in Kosovo to strengthen the rule of law and access to justice by applying innovative approaches. Through the Global Programme resources, UNDP established the Research Institute for Legal Studies in the public university of Pristina. The Institute serves as a hub for evidence-based research in response to institutional and societal needs. It also became a platform for an internship programme implemented by UNDP to enable partnership between academia and judiciary with a purpose to identify key challenges in the judicial practice in such areas as gender-based violence, women’s labour rights, matrimonial maintenance (alimony), judicial administration, organized crime, and trademarks.

Addressing small arms and light weapons (SALW) control and combating illicit arms trafficking (IAT) is part of UNDP’s goal and commitment to promote human security and sustainable development in Kosovo. In 2020, UNDP supported the installation of the MALTEGO XL software aimed to facilitate management and analysis of large amounts of data and graphs on arms trafficking enabling the Kosovo Police to speed up information gathering and increase the accuracy of its investigations. Over 100 police officers were trained in basic firearms investigations. In addition, UNDP increased the capacities of the Kosovo Police Border Department and the Centre for Border Management under the Ministry of Internal Affairs to tackle IAT, illegal possession, and firearms confiscation through the iBASE and Analyst Notebook (ANB) software. This specialized database and analysis software increased the productivity of these two institutions in information gathering and risk analysis at border crossing points and green border lines, as well as in producing qualitative intelligence reports on IAT detection.


  • 117 high school students from all communities were empowered to become human rights defenders.
  • 105 police officers were trained in basic firearms investigations. Other 36 police analysts were trained in problem profiling, risk analysis based on the Common Integrated Risk Analysis Model (CIRAM) 2.0, OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence) and data visualization.
  • Nearly 40,000 people were reached by the awareness-raising campaign aimed to address social stigma and discrimination against individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

Latin America and the Caribbean


Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries were and continue to be heavily affected by the pandemic. In terms of health resilience, with less than 9% of the world´s population, the region accounts for 18% of global cases and 27% of the deaths¹. LAC has been the hardest hit region with 34 million jobs lost and the number of unemployed will rise to more than 44 million². Extreme poverty is projected to increase from 24% in 2019 to 27.6% in 2021³. This grotesque inequality has an impact on the perceptions of justice and human rights and creates ruptures to the social fabric. As such, rule of law is the pre-condition to building consensus for a new and more inclusive social contract.

The justice system is working with limited capacity and striving to adapt to the pandemic and guarantee access to justice as much as possible. In 2020, the combined homicide rate of the Central American and Dominican Republic sub-region fell by almost 10 points, from 30.7 to 21.0⁴. Yet, violence, including gender-based, persisted throughout the region⁵. Based on the survey by the UNDP LAC hub, satisfaction with the functioning of democracy and support for democracy as a form of government have been declining over the years. COVID-19 has exacerbated the risks of intensification of social protests, populist tendencies and democratic backsliding⁶.

To ensure integrated responses, UNDP LAC facilitated a series of high-level consultations with nearly 100 experts. This resulted in a strategic policy paper LAC: Effective Governance, beyond Recovery aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic from a governance standpoint, including two principles on justice and security. In addition, UNDP launched a Regional Analysis on Citizen Security and Human Rights  and a Regional Report on Innovation, Resilience and Urgent Transformations towards Inclusive Justice in LAC. In partnership with the Association for the Prevention of Torture, UNDP developed the first ever “COVID-19 Digital Mapping: Justice and Deprivation of Liberty” to enable better management in prisons.

Over fourteen justice and security institutions in seven countries in LAC adopted innovative regionally developed tools improving the quality of data, multidimensional analysis, and evidence for public policies. In the Caribbean, thirty-two regional representatives of the police and statistical agencies from nine countries completed a crime analysis course. Aligned with the recommendations of UNDP’s reports, countries made progress in the justice and citizen security response (Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis), electoral processes and transitions (Bolivia, Chile and Dominican Republic), the functionality of local and subnational justice services (Argentina, Colombia, and Peru), digital justice services delivery (Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras), and prison management (Brazil, Panamá, Uruguay).

During 2020, the LAC Governance and Peacebuilding team, with its network of regional projects SIGOB, CARISECURE, INFOSEGURA supported more than 25 country offices, with an integrated approach including social cohesion and conflict prevention, migration, inclusion, and gender. UNDP will continue to support the call for action to strengthen the rule of law ecosystem to achieve the use of non-violence as a mechanism for negotiation between political and social actors and an inclusive justice.


In Bolivia, UNDP prioritized the engagement in a political dialogue, supporting the judicial system reform and fostering freedom of speech based on the do no harm approach, focusing on the role of media in conflict prevention and strengthening democracy.

In order to find a way out of a political crisis, the Supreme Electoral Court of Bolivia and UNDP established dialogue forums and initiated round tables with political organizations to provide information on the national and subnational electoral processes of October 2020 and March 2021. There has been a commitment to broaden the dialogue with internal actors of the Senate and the ruling party, and other political and social actors.

UNDP supports Bolivia in its efforts to comprehensively reform the judicial system not only through legislative amendments, but also by modifying procedures and cultural practices. This must be addressed integrally, from regulatory adequacy and institutional management to the efficiency of services. In cooperation and upon request from the Ministry of Justice and Institutional Transparency, UNDP provided technical support to facilitate the review of certain laws (property law, laws on judicial career and alternative dispute resolution), their adjustment process and the application of technologies to further boost the success of the reform. UNDP welcomes the participatory approach of the Ministry that convened to initiate the discussion of the reform process with constitutional lawyers, justice operators and other key stakeholders.

UNDP supported the efforts to define the main challenges for media in Bolivia. In particular, a situation analysis was conducted on media laws and regulations, freedom of speech, and the role of various stakeholders, including the government and the civil society. The analysis allowed to identify over 450 key stakeholders to potentially join the Media for Democracy network, and to understand different needs to prepare training sessions for journalists with a focus on conflict prevention. In partnership with Fundación para el Periodismo, Bolivian journalism foundation, UNDP will organize trainings for journalists and other media persons on such issues as verification of information, disinformation, legislation, participation of women and LGBTQI in the media. Furthermore, UNDP supported a pilot project in nine localities to monitor media coverage of the upcoming subnational elections, focusing on 20 key media outlets and opinion gurus who influence a major part of the electorate.


  • To support the integral justice reform, UNDP provided technical and expert assistance to ensure the qualified review of 3 legislative amendments and modification of regulations or procedures.
  • Key risks and challenges for media development and freedom of speech were mapped based on the interviews with 100 media actors and a comprehensive situation analysis. Specific proposals were elaborated on how to overcome these challenges.
  • A pilot project launched in 9 departments/regions of Bolivia to monitor 20 media outlets and their coverage of the upcoming subnational elections, with a do no harm approach.


In eastern and southern Caribbean, UNDP focused on strengthening evidence-based policymaking for citizen security. Crime Analysis Units were established and focal points for crime analysis assigned within the police departments in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), as well as in Saint Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis. UNDP commenced the procurement process to provide equipment for the units, including desktops, projectors, printers and network attached storage devices. Among the first results, the quality of Grenada’s crime analysis reports has improved. By using a Police Incident Form (PIF) to capture data, the team in Grenada began to use its crime analysis process to extrapolate victim demographics as well as other critical information with regards to 13 homicides recorded on the island in 2020.

With UNDP’s technical assistance and mentorship, the Crime Analysis Unit in Saint Lucia produced crime analysis reports to develop strategies during the COVID-19 state of emergency. An operation ‘Safe Saint Lucia’ was developed through the analysis of crime data during the pandemic. The analysis revealed a reduction in overall crime island-wide with the imposition of curfew and restrictions on mass gatherings, with the exception of homicide rates which continued to rise. The unit conducted a five-year homicide analysis (2015 – 2020) to identify the hotspots and to direct patrols in those areas. The Unit also engaged in an analysis of firearms seizures between 2010 and 2020 to establish whether the same perpetrators were responsible for multiple homicides and to develop recommendations on how to reduce access to such weapons.

UNDP ensured various training opportunities on crime analysis to increase the capacity of the law enforcement agents and enable the application of evidence-based approaches for citizen security. 28 representatives of CariSECURE beneficiary countries, Regional Security System (RSS) and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) benefitted from the online crime analysis training. For practical evaluation, participants produced crime analysis reports based on country crime data. Additionally, three webinars were held targeting police leadership. To sustain the crime analysis training beyond the life of the project, UNDP enabled the delivery of a 40-hour training of trainers (ToT) for five staff members from RSS and CARICOM IMPACS. The purpose of the ToT was to create internal capacity in teaching crime analysis methods and modules, and to provide technical assistance to previously trained crime analysts within police forces of member states.


  • 28 law enforcement agents from the region benefitted from the crime analysis training between November 2019 and September 2020.
  • 3 Crime Analysis Units created and developed in Police Departments in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada.
  • Five staff members from the Regional Security System (RSS) and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) participated in the 40-hour training of trainers that boosted the capacity of the RSS and the CARICOM (IMPACS) to sustain crime analysis training beyond the life of the project.


In Chile, UNDP centered its activities around constitution-making process, especially in the context of the constitutional referendum of October 2020 when citizens were asked if they wanted to replace the constitution and through which mechanism. This plebiscite was key in endowing legitimacy to the constitutional process proposed as an institutional route out of social and political unrest that was affecting the country since late 2019. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, electoral participation in Chile had been very low. Since only in-person voting is allowed, the pandemic increased the risk of low turnout. To promote the participation in the referendum, UNDP launched a massive ‘Bring out the vote’ campaign, targeting female voters as a priority. The UNDP-designed strategy included direct community involvement and citizen education, in alliance with a consortium of over 700 NGOs with territorial presence throughout the country, and a massive media campaign ‘Vote for All of Us Women’ which focused on women as mobilizing agents. The campaign got 1,7 million views on social media and reached up to 5 million people through radio. UNDP provided training for 3,500 civil society leaders who became constitutional educators in all 16 regions of the country.

With regards to technical support, UNDP Chile was asked to join a high-level working group led by the Congress to propose legal and administrative changes to the organization of elections during the pandemic. UNDP also assisted the National Electoral Service in convening civil society, academics, think tanks to promote dialogue on facilitating voting measures to allow for a safe and participatory constitutional plebiscite. UNDP country office produced a short report on international recommendations and best practices on organizing electoral processes in the context of the pandemic.

In partnership with UN Women, UNDP organized public discussions on gender dimension of constitution-making processes, bringing international experiences and promoting national debate among key stakeholders from all political sectors. Six events were organized before the plebiscite, Constituents: Women with voice and vote, with wide participation of women from various backgrounds and all regions of the country. Each event was live-streamed and promoted through social media to ensure easy and permanent access. The events included debates with international experts on best practices on promoting women´s participation and incorporating gender in constitution-making processes, debate with national experts on gender issues to be included in the new constitution, and a discussion about perspectives of constitution and gender engaging women youth leaders, indigenous women, labour leaders (in collaboration with ILO), civil society activists (in collaboration with Women´s NGOs Juntas en Acción). The events gathered over 500 participants and had more than 400 views of their recording on corporate pages.

As a result, electoral participation increased in more than half a million votes in comparison to the previous election. The constitutional plebiscite of 2020 reached 51% of eligible voters, the largest turnout since the country adopted voluntary voting in 2012.


  • 51% of eligible voters took part in the constitutional plebiscite, the largest turnout and the increase in more than half a million votes in comparison to the previous elections.
  • ‘Bring out the vote’ campaign reached 1,7 million views on social media; led to a 400% increase in followers and interactions on UNDP’s social media accounts; reached over 5 million people through radio stations.
  • 3,500 civil society leaders were trained as constitutional educators in all 16 regions of the country.
  • 6 webinars were conducted on women and constitution-making process with over 500 participants and over 400 views of the recording.


In Colombia, UNDP continued supporting victims’ participation in the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition born out of the Peace Accords between the government and FARC. In the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP), judicial representation of victims was supported in seven macro-cases prioritized through partnerships with 16 CSOs. This intervention enhanced the informed and dignified participation of victims in the SJP judicial processes. UNDP also supported the Truth Commission in carrying out key social dialogue and truth elucidation actions, including the truth recognition event with victims in exile in 26 countries.

Regarding the reparation for victims of the armed conflict, 57,724 victims (31,171 women and 26,553 men) participated in collective reparation or return and relocation measures carried out by the Colombian Victims’ Unit (UARIV) in partnership with UNDP. Also, UNDP facilitated the participation of 15,987 victims (9,175 women, 6,370 men, 242 girls and 200 boys) in dialogues and documenting process for the reports presented to the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition through partnership with 19 CSOs.

UNDP supported the Ombudsperson Office in Colombia, in particular its Early Warning System, by enabling 1,048 verification missions in five remote regions of the country to verify and map risks and vulnerabilities faced by civilians, incorporating gender and ethnic approaches in monitoring and analysis and ensuring follow-up on early warnings.

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP in Colombia concentrated its efforts in Cauca, one of the most ethnically diverse areas and most affected by a variety of issues, including the presence of illegal armed groups. COVID-19 exacerbated inequalities faced by the country’s black and indigenous communities, especially in remote areas that are far from health centers and thus cut from accessing medical care or obtaining protective equipment. In cooperation with the UN Resident Coordinator, the support for the indigenous communities in Cauca included (i) the delivery of 10,000 face protection devices from the Life Helmets Challenge, with the characteristic colors of the Cauca’s Regional Indigenous Council, an initiative promoted by UNDP in Colombia; (ii) purchase of 10,000 face masks from the urban production project of ex-combatant women, the Asociación de Mujeres Manuelitas in Cali; (iii) producing 398 food kits on indigenous reservations of the department, and their marketing through the solidarity economy cooperative, CENCOIC; and (iv) provision of 35 digital thermometers for monitoring the health of people who move within the territory. Out of the 10,000 face protection devices, 5,000 were given to the indigenous guards from Cauca who safeguard the lives of their communities.


  • Through 350 Family Commissaries (local civil servants dealing with GBV and domestic violence), preventive measures were put in place and assistance was provided for women and children.
  • UNDP facilitated the participation of 15,987 victims (9,175 women, 6,370 men, 242 girls and 200 boys) in dialogues and documenting process for the reports presented to the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition through partnership with 19 CSOs.
  • 12,283 individual and 277 collective victims benefitted from the judicial representation and psycho-social support in 7 macro-cases.
  • 1,048 missions by the Ombudsperson’s Office were enabled to verify and map risks and vulnerabilities faced by civilians in remote areas, incorporating gender and ethnic approaches in monitoring and analysis.


In Guatemala, UNDP and its national counterparts have significantly contributed to strengthening the country’s justice system and enhanced the provision of just, effective, and non-discriminatory services for victims and survivors of the internal armed confrontation. In partnership with the Public Prosecutor Office and civil society, UNDP empowered almost 750 survivors (73% women and 37% man) to promote transitional justice processes and to take active roles in the pursuit of justice and reparation, through culturally relevant legal advice and psychosocial support. The special focus was on women survivors of sexual violence. In addition, the Special Investigations Unit (UAE) of the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) was strengthened through the establishment of a protocol for investigating cases of forced disappearance during the internal armed confrontation.

Together with national partners, UNDP contributed to a restorative closure for hundreds of families, mostly Mayan people, who lost their loved ones during the internal armed confrontation. In coordination with the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala, UNDP supported a network of local civil society organizations in their efforts to help people in the search, exhumation, and inhumation of their relatives, as well as to provide free legal assistance and psychosocial support. In 2020, 734 people (63% women and 37% men) whose relatives had disappeared or died during the armed confrontation achieved a restorative end mourning period through the identification and dignified burial of their loved ones.

To continue the recovery through making peace with historical memory, UNDP helped establish and strengthened the capacity of a network of 60 young people to participate in the initiatives aimed at preventing violence and promoting social cohesion. 

In addition to the projects covering the issues of transitional justice, UNDP Guatemala supported the Constitutional Court in improving its case management system through various digital tools, including mobile applications and a more accessible website. As a result, there was a 75% reduction in the number of casefiles processed with delay.

Promoting access to justice for all, with no discrimination, UNDP considered cultural diversity by improving interpretation service in Mayan language throughout the judicial process. Technical support, including the equipment for simultaneous translation, was provided for two judicial interpretation centers in Sololá and Totonicapán where indigenous population constitutes the majority. Besides, a Protocol for the Application of Ethnic-Cultural and Gender Expert Opinions was adopted to reinforce the Judicial Branch’s Secretariat of Indigenous Peoples and guarantee that indigenous people can exercise their rights at all procedural stages.

To tackle corruption which also affects human rights, UNDP supported the design and implementation of the Guide for Specific Attention to Human Rights-Violating Corruption Cases.


  • 45 members of the National Network of Commissions for Transparency and Probity of 9 departments improved their knowledge and capacities in the fight against corruption.
  • 354 judges of the peace and 750 aspiring judges of the first instance benefitted from an interactive virtual training module on ethics, bioethics, and transparency skills.
  • 734 relatives of people who had disappeared or died during the armed confrontation achieved a restorative closure through the identification and dignified burial of their loved ones.
  • 748 survivors of the internal armed confrontation received culturally relevant legal advice and psychosocial support in their processes of seeking justice and reparation.


In Haiti, UNDP strengthened the capacity of the National Police and ensured coordinated response to the COVID-19 outbreak, with a focus on detention facilities.

Supporting the decentralization of the Inspectorate General of the National Police of Haiti (IGPNH) in CAP Haitian, UNDP enabled the construction and operationalization of a new IGPNH building with fully equipped offices and other facilities to ensure better services to the public.

To promote community security and people-centered services, UNDP organized a ‘training of trainers’ course, in partnership with the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). 60 police instructors, including 5 women, completed a three-week course, improving their professional skills and mastering teaching techniques. The training’s curriculum was drafted in accordance with the Strategic Development Plan 2017-2021 of the Haitian National Police. At the end of the training, this pool of 60 instructors will be responsible for providing an introductory programme to 35 trainers newly recruited by the HNP. All of the instructors will then be responsible for delivering courses for police cadets.

In the wake of COVID-19 in Haiti, the response in detention facilities, where conditions were already characterized by massive overcrowding and lack of resources, became urgent. In April 2020, UNDP established and chaired a new coordination group on a weekly basis for the organization of this response, bringing together financial and technical partners, non-governmental organizations, and the Directorate of Prison Administration for the implementation of their COVID-19 contingency plan. The group then developed to encompass issues beyond COVID-19 and continues to meet bi-monthly. UNDP implemented key action points from the contingency plan, including the distribution of protective materials, monitoring conditions of detention and sensitization on the rights of detainees and non-discrimination in the context of COVID-19 in targeted prisons and police stations. These activities were realized in collaboration with BINUH, the Office of the Ombudsman and civil society organizations. Overall, eight prisons and 20 police stations were monitored and received preventative and protection materials, and a total of 2,250 people were directly sensitized through the information sessions on COVID-19 with a human rights approach for the promotion of the rights of detainees and the respect of principles of non-discrimination.


  • UNDP supported the construction and the equipment of a new police building, in line with the decentralization of the Inspectorate General of the National Police of Haiti.
  • 60 police instructors, including five women, benefitted from a ‘training of trainers’ programme.
  • 8 prisons and 20 police stations were monitored and received preventative and protection materials to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2,250 people were directly sensitized for the promotion of the rights of detainees and the respect of principles of non-discrimination.


In Peru, UNDP focused on supporting the justice chain in order to prevent and address violence against women that was on the rise since the outbreak of COVID-19. Reportedly, the number of emergency calls increased by more than 100% compared to the same period in 2019, and the numbers of women who went missing or suffered from sexual violence are chilling, even more so when most of the victims are minors.

Against this backdrop, UNDP launched the second phase of the Women’s Access to Justice Project. Based on the findings from the first phase of 2019, the project was designed to strengthen all parts of the justice chain. UNDP partnered with the Specialized National System of Justice for women’s protection and punishment of the offenders (SNEJ). The system consists of the Judicial Branch, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Peruvian National Police (PNP), the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP).

Having mapped all the institutions that make up SNEJ to ensure timely response to victims, the project promotes the interoperability of the system and contributes to the design of its service model, as well as performance and quality indicators. UNDP organized its activities in three main areas: i) technical assistance to develop normative documents, ii) technical assistance focused on the specialization of justice service providers and, iii) modernization of IT equipment and services of the SNEJ.

The Superior Court of Justice of Puente Piedra-Ventanilla and the Public Ministry have approved legal or technical documents to improve the delivery of services within the SNEJ. Also, UNDP provided IT equipment to ensure access to justice for the survivors. For example, the use of Bluetooth speakers allowed justice operators to attend the hearings and abide by the social distancing requirements. Ten speakers were provided to 9 police stations and 1 judicial violence unit in the Puente Piedra-Ventanilla judicial district. In partnership with the Public Ministry and the Forensic Sciences Institute, UNDP developed an online platform that enabled prosecutors to have direct access to the forensic reports, saving up to 3-4 weeks when investigating violence against women. Finally, UNDP helped the Forensic Sciences Institute get specialized lab services to process DNA samples of sexual violence cases that were about to be dismissed.

In 2021, UNDP will work closely with the Ministry of Economics and Finance to assess the impact of initiatives for the protection of survivors, which is the main objective of the Results-oriented Budget Program for the reduction of violence against women launched at the end of 2019.


  • 4 legal and policy documents were approved with UNDP’s technical assistance, including on the issues of domestic violence prevention and ensuring access to justice for survivors.
  • A training programme for justice operators to enhance access to justice for victims of gender-based violence was developed and transitioned to an online platform.
  • 9 police stations and 1 judicial violence unit in the Puente Piedra-Ventanilla judicial district received IT equipment to ensure access to justice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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1End SARS Movement
²According to the UN Terminology Database, a non-derogable right is a right that, at least in theory, cannot be taken away or compromised. In human rights conventions certain rights are considered non-derogable: the right to life, the right to be free from torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to be free from slavery or servitude, and the right to be free from retroactive application of penal laws.
¹“Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2017,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 2018

²“Gender Justice and the Law in the Arab Region,” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), accessed 2021.
³SDG 16+ reinforces linkages and contributions towards progress on targets for multiple SDGs
⁴Mizan II is the case management system for Palestinian regular courts, currently implemented in the West Bank.
1Lopez Calva, Luis Felipe, A greater tragedy than we know: Excess mortality rates suggest that COVID-19 death toll is vastly underestimated in LAC, 2020.
2Lopez Calva, Luis Felipe, Sour Grapes: Discouraged workers and Labor Markets in the Context of the COVID-19 crisis, 2020.
3Lopez Calva, Luis Felipe, COVID-19 and Wealth at the Top: More and Wealthier Billionaires After the Crisis in LAC, 2021.
4“Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2017,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 2018
5Lopez Calva, Luis Felipe, No safer place than home? The increase in domestic and gender-based violence during COVID-19 lockdowns in LAC, 2020.
6Acuña- Alfaro, Jairo y Sapienza, Emanuele, COVID-19 and the social contract in Latin America: Citizens views of national responses one year on, 2021.
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