Access to Justice

What is the project about

Bringing justice to the most vulnerable people

We support the Somali people in creating an enabling environment for stability, rule of law and good governance – starting with the strengthening of legal institutions in order to increase competency, efficiency and accountability. To this end, UNDP, through its Access to Justice Project has focused on improving the functioning of the judiciary, fostering judicial reform and empowering Somali communities to secure their rights.

We provide technical assistance and support legal education and training for government and community actors. This includes support to the Ministry of Justice, Attorney General and the Judiciary in all three regions to improve the quality of rulings and judgments and establish professional oversight mechanisms. With the establishment of law faculties, scholarship and internship programmes, we focus on enhancing the professional competence of legal professionals as well as increasing the representation of all parts of society, particularly women and marginalized groups in the justice sector. Through mobile courts, we increase access to the formal justice to rural and marginalized communities across all three regions.

To bridge different justice systems, we also engage traditional authorities to improve their understanding of human rights. At the community level, the project has provided free legal aid to vulnerable groups, through support to local universities, women and lawyers associations.

Adding value.

UNDP is the only agency with over a decade’s physical presence in rule of law programming. To bridge the gap between formal and customary law, we collaborate with local communities as well as government actors. We are a central actor in enhancing judicial skills and knowledge – approximately 80% of all Somali judges and prosecutors have completed UNDP certified legal trainings, including 115 in 2012.

Highlights of our Work

Countering piracy and organized crime.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has become a growing national, regional and international problem. We are supporting the creation of an independent Somali justice system capable of delivering fair trials and reestablishing public trust in the legal system. Through our Piracy Trials Programme (in partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime), we provide technical and material support as well as training of Somali legal actors to allow for the prosecution of serious crimes, including piracy, according to international standards.

Making legal services mobile.

Aiming to strengthen Somalia’s justice and security sector and make legal aid available across all regions, we provide institutional support including building court facilities, training the judiciary and bringing formal justice services to Somali people in the most remote areas.

Empowering female prosecutors.

We support the development of an inclusive justice system to ensure the fair representation of all parts of society by encouraging the participation of women in the legal profession. UNDP promotes legal education for women and supports scholarships and internships for female law students and graduates.

What we have Accomplished

Federal Level

The foundations of support to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MoJC) were achieved with the appointments of advisors to the MoJC primarily finalized. Overall, 28 national personnel (18 advisors and 10 law graduates) have been recruited by the MoJC to provide technical support for the joint implementation support unit, institutional capacity development, prisons and corrections, judicial affairs, legal policy, legal drafting, finance and administration. Orientations and initial trainings have been undertaken for the team with the MoJC having developed an initial training needs assessment. Legal aid providers continued to provide critical support.

Implementation of the Project AWP activities will increase in pace during in the next phase, which will be facilitated through harnessing the strengths of the UN Integrated Team.


A Mobile Court Review was conducted in May for four days with 35 (F:2, M:33) members of the mobile court teams from the regions (Bari, Mudug, Karkar and Nugal) participating. A review of the activities, achievements and the challenges was undertaken along with sharing lessons learned and exploring ways of solving common challenges. Two of the key challenges identified were the low levels of successful enforcement of judgments and the absence of police stations in some districts. Under the action plan developed, the judicial authorities will dialogue further with the police and the mobile court teams will work more closely with elders.


A Mobile Court and case management review was conducted in June for three days with 45 (F:10, M:35) members of the mobile court teams and justice sector personnel participating. A review of the activities, achievements and the challenges was undertaken along with sharing lessons learned and exploring ways of solving common challenges. Three of the key challenges identified were the need for vehicles, financial constraints also linked to sustainability issues, and the need to strengthen the relationships between the district courts and police stations.

Project Overview
Project Start Date
Estimated End Date
Geographic Area
Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia
Focus Area
Democratic Governance
Project Manager
James Nunan
Ministries of Justice and Health and offices of the Attorney General in Puntland, Somaliland, and South Central; Civil Society Organizations (CSOs); local authorities; legal aid partners; and universities.