Democratic Governance

Our impact: a sample

By building the capacity of local governments, UNDP supports a more efficient, accountable and transparent state. UNDP programmes aim to enhance the government's ability to represent and serve the people of Bangladesh. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh


  •  Since 2009, a total of 87,200 cases have been submitted to village courts, of which 78% were duly resolved at the village level. Of those cases that were resolved, the average duration of proceedings was reduced from five years to 28 days. The project has earned considerable attention and praise, with the government disbursing an additional USD 1.53 million to establish village courts across 1080 more local districts, reaching an additional 21.6 million people;
  • Following UNDP technical and capacity-building support, 340 local councils have updated taxpayer registers, and over half increased their revenue by at least 10%;
  •  6 million people each month are accessing government e-services through digital service centers, reducing the average waiting time for services from 7 days to 1 hour
  • 81 million voters have been digitally registered onto the national database
  • The number of recipients of free legal aid has nearly doubled (increased 96.8%) between 2012 and 2016;
  • Over 15,000 people (nearly 60% women) have accessed a free legal aid hotline to seek advice and information;
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is now more widely used. Since its introduction in February 2015, a total of 1503 applications were registered for ADR, of which 74% were resolved;
  • Legal aid cells for work-related problems in Dhaka and Chittagong have provided mediation, case filing, and legal advice services for 3,030 workers, particularly in the garment sector, since May 2013;
  • The establishment of an in-house violence tracking database, that has catalogued over 10,000 incidents across Bangladesh.

UNDP has a number of exciting governance reform initiatives that are improving services and changing lives. Some prominent examples include:



Village Courts: National Standards, Local Solutions

Bangladeshi citizens living in extreme poverty often face obstacles to justice. Legal backlogs and complex, long and cumbersome procedural requirements exclude large segments of the population. The Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh (AVCB) Project addresses this problem by establishing swift, reliable, and inexpensive access to justice at the local level. Since 2009, village courts have been established in 351 local districts (unions) across Bangladesh by the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, with UNDP and European Union support. UNDP assistance has improved service capacity, raised awareness, reformed policy and helped establish a more robust institutional monitoring system.

This project has been such a success that UNDP, EU, and the Bangladeshi government have agreed to significantly increase the scale and reach of village court activities across Bangladesh. Village courts will be extended to an additional 1080 local districts, reaching 21.6 million people by 2019. UNDP works with local authorities to help them become more responsive to local justice needs, and to empower local people - including women, the poor, and vulnerable minorities to resolve their disputes in a timely, transparent and affordable manner.

For more information on the Village Courts, please click here.

Justice Sector Facility (JSF): Towards a Fairer Justice System for All

Justice and security are complex and interconnected fields; government bodies often have overlapping mandates and responsibilities. The Justice Sector Facility Project works to improve sector-wide coordination and cooperation between justice agencies in three pilot districts. In partnership with the National Legal Aid Services Organization, UNDP support has helped to widen eligibility and access to special legal aid services for workers, parents of vulnerable children, and victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Criminal Justice Coordination Committees (CJCCs) in 18 districts facilitate a quick turnover for cases. A toll-free legal advice helpline, legal aid cells for garment workers, and the strengthening of alternative dispute resolution infrastructure have all helped to make Bangladesh a safer and more just society.

For more information on JSF, please click here.


UNDP Support for Human Rights in Bangladesh: A Progressive Mandate

Support for universal human rights is a core element of UNDP’s mandate. UNDP has been a consistent supporter of the Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission both up to and following its launch in 2007, and its renewal in 2009. The Commission has been critical to improving the public’s recognition of human rights issues – the number of people who were aware of their human rights increased 40% between 2011 and 2015 (from 48.6% recognition to 68%). The Commission has acted as a critical new voice in support of human rights, changing attitudes and advocating for new human rights approaches from within government. In addition, UNDP actively engages prominent Bangladesh-based human rights advocates and monitoring organizations, helping them to expand their activities, influence and outreach. Respect for human rights is an essential foundation that will strengthen and reinforce Bangladesh’s progress towards each of its other Sustainable Development Goals, and UNDP remains a committed partner in helping Bangladesh become an ever more equitable society.
For more information on UNDP’s commitment to Human Rights in Bangladesh, please click here.

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