Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan (JHRA)

UNDP Afghanistan: JHRA takes a gender sensitive approach to its work. There are 73 women lawyers registered with the Legal Aid Grant Facility sponsored by the project.

Afghanistan has witnessed over thirty years of conflict, which have severely constrained the justice system and the government’s ability to serve its people. Legislation is often not compliant with international best practices, human rights conventions signed by Afghanistan, and even other national laws.   The vast size and rural nature of the country’s provinces as well as widespread poverty and low levels of education prevent people from accessing justice through State channels. Illiteracy compounds these issues, resulting in a lack of awareness among people about their rights. As a result, approximately 80% of disputes in the country are settled by traditional justice bodies, at times, in contradiction with human rights standards. Women are particularly limited in accessing fair and equitable justice through both formal and informal channels. Securing the trust of the people in the justice system is crucial in order for the government to gain legitimacy and lead the transition to a future free from conflict.


To address these challenges, Phase II of the Justice and    Human Rights in Afghanistan (JHRA) project focuses on     bolstering the credibility of the State justice system.

Output 1: Develop policy and legislation for justice institutions in accordance with international and national standards:

  • To ensure that national laws, policies and regulations adhere to international human rights standards, JHRA builds on the existing capacity of the Ministry of Justice for effective policy making and legislative reform.
  • The mandate of the Human Rights Support Unit (HRSU) is to ensure legislative compliance and tracking of implementation of human rights compliance. HRSU works under an inter-ministerial task force which is responsible for taking informed and coordinated decisions on human rights issues on behalf of the state.
  • JHRA is working with other UN agencies and national institutions to carry out a baseline study of rule of law indicators to inform justice sector institutions and international programming on M&E.  All six rule of law and justice institutions have contributed indicators which can measure success in the sector.
  • JHRA is working with the legislative drafting department with support from the translation board to improve the legislative drafting process through increased reference to international best practices.

Output 2: Mechanisms for providing access to justice services to vulnerable groups established and functional

  • JHRA has supported mechanisms to increase the availability of affordable and professional justice services to Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people with a strong focus on women’s rights.  Particular attention has been paid to ensure that victims of violence are awarded special protection.
  • JHRA has supported the Ministry of Justice and the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association to establish the Legal Aid Grant Facility that provides free legal services to those in need with particular focus on women, children, and detainees. The facility began accepting cases in four provinces in June 2014. Lawyers took up 400 cases on a pilot basis in 2014.
  • In 2013, JHRA conducted a detailed assessment of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) Units for the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and other institutions.  The project’s experts are providing training and hands-on experience to the prosecutors of EVAW Units on settlement processes and drafting procedures for indictments. Practical procedures for effective coordination between police, especially the Criminal Investigation Department and Family Response Units, are in place in Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Output 3: Public participation processes and knowledge base for improving access to justice and human rights compliance established

  • JHRA works to establish clear parameters within which informal economy  actors and informal justice providers can function through policy development and expansion of legal knowledge.
  • To promote perception and behavior change and increase public trust, JHRA supported the development of a communications strategy for the Ministry of Justice, based on which the Public Legal Awareness Unit of the ministry now develops an action plan on how to engage with the civil society, media and the public.
  • JHRA has supported the establishment of Technical Coordination Committees for street vendors’ rights in Herat, Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Jalalabad. These committees offer a platform through which issues affecting street vendors can be addressed and thus a national policy to improve socio-economic conditions and legal protections for these vendors will be developed.
  • JHRA is working to strengthen links between “state” and “non-State” justice providers to ensure communication, case referrals and knowledge building between community leaders and State institutions.

What have we accomplished so far

  • Over 50 translations of laws and draft laws provided to the Taqnin in order to allow for the incorporation of global best practices into the legislative review and drafting processes. All national legislations reviewed for compliance with international human rights conventions; nine draft legislative documents from the Legislative Calendar reviewed for human rights compliance in 2013-2014.
  • Draft indicators developed by national working group including all rule of law institutions. Internally measurable state-led baseline study ready for rollout . Justice sector institutional strategic plans aligned through this process. 
  • LAGF has been established and accepting cases since June 2014. By end of Q3 2014 LAGF had registered 190 lawyers and taken on 257 cases in four provinces, 64 of which have been resolved.
  • Capacity needs assessment of EVAW system undertaken and recommendations endorsed and adopted by AGO. Ongoing training of prosecutors and police personnel, as well a pilot EVAW court have been initiated out of this assessment.
  • Technical Coordination Committees  for street vendors’ rights have been established in Kabul, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat. A draft national policy paper on street vendors’ rights has been developed and shared with all stakeholders.
  • A strategic plan with well-defined focus on violence against women and civil society coordination developed and adopted.
  • A communications strategy  to improve public perception and media relations has been developed with the Public Legal Awareness Unit and adopted and launched by the Ministry of Justice.

Who Finances it?

Donor name

Amount contributed per year in US$


Government of Switzerland


Government of Canada


Government of Denmark


Government of Netherlands



Government of Denmark


Government of Netherlands


Government of Switzerland



Government of Denmark


Government of Italy


Government if Netherlands


Delivery in previous fiscal year in US$

Dec 2014


Dec 2013


Dec 2012


At a Glance
Start Date:
January 2013
End Date:
December 2015
Geographic coverage:
Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar
Focus Area:
Crisis Prevention and Recovery
Target 8: Develop a global partnership for development and Target 3: Promote Gender equality and Empower women
Programme Officer:
Fabian Schipper
Chief Technical Advisor:
Doel Mukerjee
Implementing Partners:
Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association.
Implementation Modality:
Direct Implementation ghanistan
Other Key Partners:
Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EUPOL and UNAMA.
Total Budget:
US$ 34,402,039
Open Data

Detailed information on JHRA and more than 6,000+ UNDP development projects in 177 countries and territories worldwide.

An Afghan government official talks about the free legal aid grant facility


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Meet our partner
Afghanistan Independent Bar Association President, Rohullah Qarizadah, on free legal services supported by JHRA

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JHRA Project Summary

The Project Summary of Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan (JHRA) covers in a two-page PDF document the issues, responses and achievements of this UNDP project in Afghanistan.

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Download this Document
  • Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan Project (JHRA) End of Project Evaluation Final Report