Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh

What is the project about?

Village Court
350 village courts were created in communities to grant a greater access to justice. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh.

The formal justice system in Bangladesh is overwhelmed by the demand for legal recourse. But for the vast majority of the population, the prohibitive costs of formal justice, coupled with a poor understanding of legal matters, means that access to justice is outside their reach. In order to reduce the burden on the higher courts, as well as to increase access to justice for the wider population, the Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project works with the Local Government Division to set up, support and strengthen village courts in 351 Union Parishads (lowest tier of rural local government institutions in Bangladesh) across the country. 

The project seeks to improve access to justice for disadvantaged and marginalised, especially the rural poor and women, and enhances human rights systems and processes in Bangladesh. The project seeks to empower citizens to resolve their disputes at the local level in an expeditious, transparent and affordable manner. Finally, it aims to strengthen local government institutions to be responsive to local needs and offer legal services through well-functioning village courts (VC).

What have we accomplished so far?

Village Court
Citizens can now resolve locally their disputes in a prompt and effective manner by bringing their case to the village courts. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh

The project has strengthened the Union Parishad’s (UP) ability to deliver justice to rural areas through village courts in 351 UPs all of which are providing legal services to the community. A cumulative total of 69,694 cases have been reported to VCs since 2010, of which 54,722 have been resolved taking on an average 28 days per case. A total of 4,612 cases have been referred by the district courts, thereby reducing the burden on the higher courts. Women are increasingly visiting village courts in obtaining justice and participating village court decision making process. In 2014, 6, 926 women sought remedy in village courts which was 5,829 and 5,443 in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Involvement of women in village court’s decision making process has also been increased from 11 % (2013) to 15% (2014).

Who finances it?

Donor Amount
European Union $1,984,338.24
UNDP $75,901.43
UNDP $1,005,820.05
European Union $3,952,173.92
UNDP $ 537,329.91
UNDP $ 199,178.51
European Union (EU) $ 3,403,591.41
UNDP $ 121,528.18
European Union (EU) $ 3,416,166.67
UNDP $ 3,758.48

Delivery in previous fiscal years

Year Amount
2014 $2,174,564.85 (draft)
2013 $ 2,793,000.69
2012 $ 3,198,483.14
2011 $ 2,452,849.84
2010 $ 2,688,887.47
2007-2009 $ 817,507.13
Project Overview
Project start date
01 January 2009
Estimated end date
31 December 2015
Geographic coverage
351 UPs in 57 Upazillas
Focus Area
Democratic Governance
Project Officer
Md Salahuddin Khan
UNDP Project Manager
Sarder M Asaduzzaman
European Union, UNDP, Local Government Division (LGD), Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MOLGRD&C)
Project Documents
Project Document