Project Factsheet
Tools for » Joint Access to Justice at the District Level Project
Project ID:00067221Description:MDGF-1955-F-AFG Joint Access t
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Dec 2008
MDGF Conflict Prev Peacebld
End Date*: 4 Jun 2012
Country: Afghanistan Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The situation of the justice sector in Afghanistan is extraordinarily challenging. Most of the efforts have been targeting the formal justice system, but little progress has been made at the district level, which is the first point of contact with State justice providers for the Afghan people. In addition, Afghanistan’s traditional justice system has a far more prominent role in conflict resolution at the village level, yet often in violation of national and international human rights, particularly those of women. The Joint Programme has followed a bottom-up approach through basic institutional building at the district level, and public legal awareness activities in remote communities. The capacity development outcomes are built around an increased demand for access to justice, with particular attention to the rights of women (outcome 1), the strengthening of local capacity to meet these demands through training of formal justice actors and community representatives (outcome 2) and improved capacity and conditions in local justice facilities, through emergency infrastructure works (outcome 3). The Joint Programme covers six target provinces.

The Joint Programme was able to reach many people across targeted training and outreach activities to increase awareness and knowledge of human rights and justice issues. Under the first outcome, 15,250 village residents were reached by the various activities (such as community theater performances and mass media campaigns) touching on sensitive issues of human rights, forced marriages, international human and women’s rights. Knowledge and capacity was also built in the education sector (421 teachers trained, impacting some 42,100 students), and paralegal trainings were conducted in two of the six provinces to 43 public servants, increasing the availability of information on legal rights and representation. A paralegal manual was developed with the Ministry of Justice and disseminated. 300 Legal Aid Organization of Afghanistan (LAOA) lawyers and paralegals from three provinces were trained on child’s rights, Afghan Juvenile Code, and international conventions by UNICEF. As a result of the training the coverage for legal aid provision has expanded to 21 provinces, including the six project provinces. 

Under the second outcome, training was delivered to enhance the capacity of district-level justice actors, although the number of participants was significantly lower than the initial targets, with 27 judges, 124 prosecutors, and 163 judicial police trained in 2011, and an additional 226 justice officials trained in 2012. The number of justice officials actually working in the target provinces is much lower than the original targets set, and the Joint Programme attempted to compensate for this by including government officials from related institutions, such as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) where available.

The combined capacity development efforts led to lower juvenile delinquents being formally charged and more dispute resolution being addressed at the local level. An important aspect was the introduction of forms to collect information on cases of violence against women, in order to standardize the incident reporting mechanism and improve data collection. This was achieved in three of the provinces to the Department of Women Affairs (DoWA), and general legal knowledge of the justice system and women’s rights was improved, including to the district level formal justice system actors.

As for the third outcome, the JP refurbished five justice facilities.


Outcome 1:

Local community capacity to understand the justice system, demand access to justice, and protect its vulnerable members’ rights is strengthened.

Outcome achievements:

The programme enhanced awareness regarding the constitutional and human rights in the six provinces and districts through a combination of activities implemented by the Centre for Afghan Civil Society (CACSS), among which: a) community theater performances on human rights, the prohibition of forced marriages under Islam, international human rights and women’s rights, reaching some 15,250 village residents; and b) a mass media campaign with 26 human rights video shows and focus group discussions. In addition 10,500 posters on underage and forced marriages were distributed during focus groups, and UNICEF distributed 900 copies of information sheets on Child Protection Action Networks (CPAN).

In addition UNDP contracted the CACSS to provide workshops for primary and secondary school teachers in 21 districts of the six provinces, with materials developed jointly by UN Women and the Ministry of Justice, on Ethics, values and principles of justice in Islam, the Afghan Constitution, international conventions, human and child rights, and gender and justice in schools. Three-day trainings were held in 180 schools to 421 teachers, with a projected impact on 42,100 students.

UN Women transversally incorporated technical gender inputs in all public awareness materials and ensured gender sensitive programming of all JP components.

Enhanced knowledge of human rights, including women’s rights and the role of the formal justice system, was provided through training to 653 community representatives, of which 101 were women, in all six target provinces. The trainings were undertaken by Social Development and Legal Rights/Organization for Social Development in Afghanistan (SDLR/OSDA), and training materials were developed based on initial needs assessments in each of the target districts.

UN Women conducted paralegal trainings to 43 public servants (MoJ, Attorney’s General Office, local shuras, Ministry of Women’s Affairs) in two provinces to: a) enable paralegals to deliver quality legal assistance and services to Afghans;and b) make the public aware of their rights and responsibilities, and how to access justice sector facilities and services. A first edition of the paralegal manual was printed and disseminated. It was developed in coordination with the Ministry of Justice and is certified by the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association, and provides paralegals with basic guidance to assist women victims of violence.

UNICEF trained 300 Legal Aid Organization of Afghanistan (LAOA) lawyers and paralegals on child’s rights, Afghan Juvenile code, and international conventions. As a result of the training the coverage for legal aid provision has been expanded to 21 provinces (61 percent of the country), including the 6 project provinces. This initiative has provided 2,559 children in detention with legal representation, of which 265 (including 20 girls) were from the six target provinces.

UNICEF facilitated the signing of a revised letter of agreement amongst various ministries and institutions to formalize the role of social workers and the use of social inquiry reports (SIR) by integrating the procedures to deal with cases of violence against women and children into the justice system. The letter of agreement requires the appointment of child protection focal persons in each government institution. 204 focal persons were identified, 36 of which are in the six target provinces.


Outcome 2:

The professionalism and accountability of district-level formal justice system actors is strengthened.

Outcome achievements:

In 2010-2011, SDLR/OSDA delivered trainings on Land Law, Family Law, and laws concerning the protection of women and children to 27 judges, 124 prosecutors, and 163 judicial police. The figure is substantially below the target of 840 officials, as the actual number of justice officials in each province was lower than initial projections (many positions at the district level are simply not filled). In 2012, CACSS continued justice training to 226 justice officials in all six target provinces. UN Women also trained 45 heads of provincial Department of Women Affairs (DoWA) offices on how the new Women Protection Centers Regulation would affect their work and how they can support women victims of violence.

In 2010 UNICEF supported a two-day, interagency workshop on Alternatives to Detention for Juvenile Offenders, attended by 120 participants from government institutions and civil society organizations. During the Programme implementation period, eight children were released through timely intervention of social workers preparing SIRs. CPANs have been established in 28 provinces and 51 districts, and comprise representatives from government institutions, civil society organizations and UN agencies to promote the respect and protection of children’s rights. 639 child protection cases (of which 181 girls) have been identified and followed-up by the CPANs. Training and orientation of the police and social workers have resulted in a reduction in the number of children charged with offences. Likewise, through trainings and the entrenchment of a coordinator at the regional hub for governance activities, UNDP has increased the overall capacity of justice providers to understand the legal system and deliver justice in a fair, informed and equitable fashion.

UN Women provided induction trainings in three provinces to the DoWAs on violence against women and instructions on how to use the Intake Form to standardize the reporting of incidents, and improve data collection and analysis. 7,000 forms were prepared. Through UNODC, 12 trainers from prison and detention centers were trained in the provision of medical services and basic life support to assist prisoners in need.


Outcome 3:

The facilities of the formal justice system at the district level have greater capacity and are more accessible to community members.

Outcome achievements:

The original plan was to refurbish 18 justice facilities. The JP constructed five: Panjshir: one primary court, one joint MoJ Legal Affairs/AGO office, one detention center; Daykundi: one primary court, one joint MoJ Legal Affairs/AGO office. Essentially, this was what was possible financially with the first tranche of funding.

UN Women worked with the Supreme Court engineers and UNDP to ensure that construction designs for justice facilities were gender inclusive.


Best practices:

Establishment and support to CPANs is increasing community ownership in responding to protection needs of the vulnerable children.


Lessons learned:

Programme coordination proved to be a major challenge. The role of UNDP as lead agency resulted in disputes that could have been overcome had the Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNAMA) been designated as the main coordinating agency. As UNAMA had no implementation role in the programme, it would have served as a clear and impartial oversight mechanism for programme management.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Afghanistan or the lead agency for the programme. The MPTF Office Portfolio Manager (or Country Director with Delegation of Authority) for this programme:

The person with GATEWAY access rights to upload and maintain documents for the programme:

  • Yaqub Naqshbandzada, Coordination Officer; Telephone: +93 (0) 799328763; Email:
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