A Sserumaga (2003)
18 pages (137KB)
Since the end of 1999, the Ugandan government has worked to plan and implement a medium-term reform plan for its justice, law and order sector. This paper, delivered at a European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights seminar, outlines the achievements and challenges of this sector-wide approach. It also provides insight into the role of donors in such programmes.
Uganda’s justice sector reform programme was born from the recognition that legal and justice services were not functioning well, especially for the poor, and suffered from corruption. The medium-term policy objective is to maintain law and order and increase access to justice. The reform programme is integrated into the government’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan, and has adopted a participatory approach, including partnerships with civil society. It is run through a number of committees and a secretariat. Donors have come together in a group that serves as a contact point for sector institutions and meets regularly with the government. Overall, the reform programme has achieved concrete improvements for users, thanks to more joined-up policy making and efficient use of resources. Progress has been made towards rehabilitating the sector’s poor image, which in turn has reinforced commitment to reform. However, implementation has also highlighted a number of issues that need to be addressed.
Challenges are divided into three areas: political, policy-related and technical. They include:
- The ongoing need to lobby for funds, according to changing political personnel and priorities. The programme has to compete with other sectors such as education, which the government sees as more important.
- The complex task of fixing and achieving sector-wide policy goals when different institutions within it are competing for scarce resources for specific activities.
- The importance of gaining public support for policy shifts, which can be a lengthy and expensive process. The programme also found consulting with NGOs difficult, but is now co-operating with them as legal aid partners.
- The lack of baseline data that could be used to monitor programme achievements. The programme is working to develop indicators, which are seen as an invaluable tool when lobbying for resources.
The programme’s interaction with donors provides some insights into how sector-wide partnerships work in practice. Key observations are that:
- A simplified partnership structure with donors, involving a unified group and information mechanisms, has improved reporting and evaluation processes, and reduced conflicting pressures on the Ugandan government.
- It has been agreed that individual institutions should not approach donors directly and vice versa, so that programme-level management is not undermined.
- Spending limits imposed by the government’s medium-term expenditure framework mean that the sector has not been able to accept all funds pledged by donors, although a small ceiling increase has been negotiated.
- Co-ordination among donors, as well as between them and the sector, has led to a more rational and effective use of resources. This has improved the functioning of courts, for example.
- There is still a need to reconcile the interests of and engagement with donors who prefer budget support and those who focus on projects. An agreed set of partnership principles should help achieve this.
Source: Sserumaga A., 2003, Sector-Wide Approaches in the Administration of Justice and Promoting the Rule of Law: the Ugandan Experience, Seminar on the Rule of Law, European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, 3-4 July 2003, Brussels
Related resources: This document forms part of the GRC Exchange topic guide page on "SSAJ Overview" - part of the wider GRC Exchange topic guide on "Safety, Security and Access to Justice".
This document also forms part of the GRC Exchange topic guide on "Sector Wide Approaches (SWAps)" - part of the wider GRC Exchange topic guide on "Aid Instruments".