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 350 Union Parishads (smallest government unit 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 Parishads ()’s ability to deliver justice to rural areas through VCs, in 350 UPs, all of which are providing legal services to the community. A cumulative total of 26,949 cases have been reported to VCs since 2010, of which 20,103 have been resolved. A total of 1,683 have been referred by the district courts, thereby reducing the burden on the higher courts. Also, the project encourages petitioners and respondents to nominate women as village court panel members. As a result, in 2012 more women (5,443 women) sought remedies through VC than in 2011 (2,850 women). Representation of women in the VC decision making process has increased from 7% in 2011 to 8% in 2012.

Who finances it?

Donor Amount
European Union (EU) $ 3,952,173.91
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
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 2013
Geographic coverage
Country wide
Focus Area
Democratic Governance
Project Officer
Salahuddin Khan
UNDP Project Manager
European Union, UNDP, Local Government Division (LGD), Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MOLGRD&C)
Project Documents
Project Document