The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 states that peace, justice and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions are at the core of sustainable development. SAILS, in collaboration with BRAC, is currently developing a working paper series to support justice sector improvements in Bangladesh and help achieve SDG 16. The working paper series, comprised of 5 papers, examine various aspects of the justice sector and SDG 16 in Bangladesh – from assessing the current state of interventions, performance of lower courts and new digital initiatives to improve access to government services at the local level to examining how indicators of progress towards SDG 16 can be adapted to the context in Bangladesh.
The first paper is aimed at assessing the effectiveness of project interventions in Bangladesh Justice Sector supported by DFID and/or other development partners. Drawing primarily on qualitative analysis, the paper will examine how successful interventions have been thus far in addressing major challenges such as case backlog in courts and access to justice for the poor and marginalized. The paper will provide key insights into how to design future development assistance programs and improve access and quality of justice initiatives in Bangladesh.
The second paper will offer an empirical investigation of lower court’s performance across districts in Bangladesh. It will investigate the factors that lead to variance in judicial performance among districts, for example, some districts experiencing better case disposal rates than others. The analysis will identify areas where policy makers can intervene to improve performance of lower courts across the country.
The third paper will explore the implications of SDG 16 for Bangladesh. In particular, it will explore the types of initiatives that can contribute to achieving the aims of SDG 16 and summarize the current state of initiatives within Bangladesh that are working towards this goal. The paper will also describe how the proposed indicators of progress on SDG 16 can be adapted to the Bangladesh context, how the source of data to measure progress can be prepared and how existing initiatives can be focused to address the indicators.
The fourth paper will focus on the performance of Union Digital Centers (UDCs) a private-public partnership initiative that aims to make crucial government services more accessible at the local level using digital tools. Every Union Parishad (the smallest rural administrative and local government units) in Bangladesh has opened a UDC, numbering over 4,500 around the country. This study explores several aspects of UDC performance – how successful they are in providing two most common government services accessible at the UDCs: birth registrations and district land records; the challenges UDCs face in becoming sustainable businesses; and the steps that can be taken to mitigate these obstacles. The research has been requested by the Access to Information (a2i) project of the Government of Bangladesh. The study relies on a series of targeted, detailed case studies that examine the differences between successful and low-performing UDCs within the same geographic region.
The fifth paper will synthesize the findings from the overall working paper series and will offer recommendations for the government and other stakeholders to enhance justice in Bangladesh.
The first research papers from the series will be published in January 2017. Please keep an eye on the SAILS website for updates.
Photo credit: UNDP in India