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Key Text Bank Group Strategy Paper on Law for Development

Author: African Development Bank
Date: 2001
Size: 9 pages (46 KB)

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Law is a tool that can contribute to economic development. Macro level strategies are aligned to poverty reduction and propose regional economic cooperation. How can the AFDB's “Law for Development” programme include all the various stakeholders? How can legal and judicial reform be effective? This strategy paper, produced by the African Development Bank (AFDB), recognises that at the base of good governance lies an equitable, effective and efficient legal and judicial system. However, a successful outcome relies on African member countries' commitment to, and implementation of, the programme. The “intangible” impacts of such a programme are difficult to quantify. The paper acknowledges that it may take time to fully realise the impact on the poor in terms of their perception of the equity of the system, or the economic benefits of specific reforms.

The paper highlights such pre-requisites as patience and commitment as well as the gradual, long-term requirements of financial longevity and judicial reform. In the long term (three to six years) it is predicted that the programme will ensure the up-take of legislation. This legislation should ease public access to the judiciary, increase understanding of its mechanisms and equip the legal system with the tools and infrastructure necessary to deliver legal services. Other conclusions from the paper include the following:

  • The free-market is the optimum environment in which to effect legal and judicial reform
  • The particular challenges of each regional member country (RMC) are recognised, and principal stakeholders should be consulted to develop a consensus
  • These are not exclusively stand-alone initiatives. Aspects of the programme should be integrated into other capacity building and institutional support projects of the Bank
  • There is need for better transparency of corporate governance, particularly in the light of increasing privatisation efforts
  • Commercial laws that affect the economic environment are critical. Therefore laws pertaining to, for instance, liberalisation, cross-border transactions or insolvencies should be revised and harmonised.

Important policy actors include the judiciary, law societies, legal aid groups, academia and poverty reduction specialists. Particular policy priorities are that:

  • Legal and judicial reform must move in tandem with economic policies, particularly toward greater economic integration across Africa. Similarly, regional harmonisation should be promoted
  • Efforts should be made to streamline costs, which include: Dispute resolution, use of obsolete techniques, mounting caseloads, and process delays
  • The capacity of legal services departments need to be expanded. To this end, a unit on Good Governance will be established with the two-fold remit of facilitating research on legal reform and managing related technical assistance projects
  • Anti-corruption legislation will be prepared by the legal department, as will policies on regional integration. These will work in tandem
  • Regional registries are to be developed and supported, as this is a recognised restraint to effective governance in RMCs.

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Source: African Development Bank 2001, 'Bank Group Strategy Paper on Law for Development', African Development Bank, Abidjan.
Author: African Development Bank,
Organisation: African Development Bank,