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Enhancing justice institutions for the poor

Michael Woolcock


Despite a broad consensus on the importance of human rights and building the rule of law for development in general and poverty reduction in particular, there remains a large gap between theory and practice, and between what governments say and what they actually do. All manner of studies, for example, purport to document the empirical significance of property rights and good governance, yet development agencies have a long and mostly unhappy record of trying to bring these about. Similarly, most governments in the world are signatories to international human rights declarations, and rhetorically (even officially support gender equity, universal education, and justice for all, yet in too many instances India on public education, DRC on human rights, Cambodia on access to justice their profound shortcomings in these areas are readily apparent. How (as opposed to why) have donors, agencies and governments managed to sustain this type of engagement on these issues for so long. Might there be alternative theoretical and epistemological entry points capable of supporting more effective outcomes. A brief overview of the underlying problem and alternative entry points for solutions is provided. Enhancing justice institutions for the poor is a particular kind of development problem requiring particular types of solutions that are deeply problematic, though not impossible, for most large (high modern) development agencies and government bureaucracies. Creating more space for disciplines and perspectives able to inform these types of innovative solutions is essential.

Publication Type(s)

Conference Paper

Ten Years of War Against Poverty Conference Papers

Conference: Ten Years of War Against Poverty


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