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The Global Study on Legal Aid

Ab Currie, PhD

Monday, September 28, 2015

The United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Program on Drugs and Crime recently launched a worldwide study on legal aid. The study recognizes the significant role legal aid can play in securing people’s rights and entitlements, obtaining redress for grievances and ensuring proper criminal defense. The importance of legal aid was recognized by the member states of the United Nations in 2012 with the release of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems in 2012 and, more broadly, by the right to equal access to justice for all in the Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, also in 2012. The Declaration focused on providing access to justice for all, including legal aid.

The global legal aid study will collect information by means of a general questionnaire that is structured to accommodate for significant differences in the social environments and justice systems of countries, and the differences among jurisdictions, within federal states such as Canada. Further, the focus is more on how legal aid supports access to justice than on a descriptive account of operations and services. Ab Currie, Senior Research Fellow at the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, was invited to be one of the respondents for Canada.  The results of the global legal aid study will be summarized on the CFCJ website when they become available.