Our Perspective

      • Youth hold the key to Somalia’s future | Sima Bahous

        28 Sep 2012

        For decades the world has heard only bad news from Somalia. Lawlessness, famine, piracy, and conflict have shaped our global view of this small, Horn of Africa country. The recent slaying of a member of Somalia’s new parliament underscores the severity of its challenges. Beyond the headlines, though, Somalia shows tremendous promise—it is strategically located, it has a promising agricultural sector, and recent estimates show that it may have a good deal of oil as well. But a better future will be driven neither by its location nor its natural resources: It will be driven by the country’s people—and Somalia’s hopeful youth hold the key. UNDP is today releasing its Somalia Human Development Report 2012, which focuses on the enormous potential that lies in empowering Somali youth to become an engine of peace-building and development in this country of stark contrasts. Today, 73 percent of Somalis are under 30, making theirs one of the world’s youngest countries. Typically, young people in conflict or post-conflict zones are viewed as either victims or aggressors, and indeed for decades Somali youth have known more than their fair share of violence and despair. Many young Somalis have never set foot in a schoolhouse— and stillRead More

      • Time to integrate traditional and formal justice | Olav Kjørven

        26 Sep 2012

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        Women take an active part at a village meeting in India.Photo: Sephi Bergerson/ UNDP India

        In some developing countries, informal or traditional justice systems resolve up to 80 percent of disputes, over everything from cattle to contracts, dowries to divorce. Disproportionately, these mechanisms affect women and children. A new report, commissioned by UNDP, UNICEF, and UN Women and produced by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, provides the most comprehensive UN study on this complex area of justice to date. It draws conclusions based on research in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Malawi, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, and 12 other developing countries. These systems, it concludes, are a reality of justice in most of the countries where UNDP works to improve lives and livelihoods and government capacities to serve. The evidence illustrates the direct bearing such systems can have on women and children’s legal empowerment, covering issues from customary marriage and divorce to custody, inheritance, and property rights. It’s time to engage squarely with customary justice systems and integrate them into broader development initiatives aimed at guaranteeing human rights and access to justice for all. These systems are often far more accessible than formal mechanisms and may have the potential to provide quick, inexpensive, and culturally relevant remedies. But traditional development models have for years paid them littleRead More

      • Confronting daunting challenges to justice & security in the Arab region | Sima Bahous, Jordan Ryan

        24 Sep 2012

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        Millions of Libyans went to the polls to vote in the country’s first free nationwide elections in nearly five decades. Photo: An elated voter casts her vote. Photo: Samia Mahgoub /UNDP

        Just over a year ago, the Arab region began to witness unprecedented change, with several countries embarking on transitions towards more democratic governance. Strengthening the rule of law is a central challenge facing these countries. Expectations of citizens for accountable security institutions, impartial justice systems and the fulfillment of human rights are higher now than ever before. Recently, we met with two officials at the forefront of dealing with this challenge: Kamal Bashar Idhan, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Libya, tasked with ensuring that justice is delivered and human rights are upheld for all Libyans; and Said Mechichi, Secretary of State for Reform in the Tunisian Ministry of Interior who leads efforts on security sector reform in the country which triggered the Arab region’s wave of change. The challenges facing these two officials and the institutions they lead are daunting. Strengthening the rule of law in transition settings is one of the most difficult aspects of change. But it is also among the most important, and we were inspired by their commitment. UNDP has worked closely with countries in the Arab region — including Libya and Tunisia — to support their democratic transitions and national-led efforts to re-establishRead More

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