Date01 January 2015
AuthorAnirban Chakraborty
Published date01 January 2015
Subject MatterEditorial
Military-Madrasa-Mullah Complex vii
India Quarterly, 66, 2 (2010): 133–149
A Global Threat vii
Reforms to strengthen the delivery of effective legal aid have received momentum at both domestic and
international level in recent decades. Right to free legal representation for criminal defendants who
cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent their cases before a judicial tribunal is widely accepted as a
cardinal principle of right to a fair trial. This right is regarded as a foundation for a fair and effective
criminal justice system.1 Although steps have been taken by States to implement this right but it is far
from being implemented in letter and spirit in several countries.
For the purpose of ensuring international cooperation and effective delivery of legal representation
for criminal defendants, the United Nation in the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly adopted
the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Justice in Criminal Justice Systems.2 It was
drawn from international standards and recognized good practices, and aim to provide guidance to States
on the fundamental principles on which a criminal legal aid system should be based. The objectives of
these Guidelines inter alia state that
recognizing that legal aid is an essential element of a fair, humane and efcient criminal justice system that is
based on the rule of law and that it is a foundation for the enjoyment of other rights, including the right to a fair
trial, as a precondition to exercising such rights and an important safeguard that ensures fundamental fairness
and public trust in the criminal justice process.3
To further discuss effective strategies to improve access to justice in criminal justice systems consistent
with the UN Guidelines an ‘International Conference on Access To Legal Aid in Criminal Justice
Systems’ was organized by the Government of South Africa in collaboration with United Nations
Development Programme, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Open Society Justice Initiatives
and other partners on June 24–26, 2014 at Johannesburg, South Africa.4 The Conference was attended by
global experts on legal aid policy, practitioners including representatives from Ministries of Justice,
Judiciary, bar associations, legal aid lawyers and civil society members. The participants reaffirmed that
the foundation for enjoyment of other rights, including the right to a fair trial is closely linked with the
speedy and effective implementation of the UN Principles and Guidelines. Certain implementable
1 Art. 14 (d) of ICCPR states ‘To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own
choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any
case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to
pay for it’.
2 United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Justice in Criminal Justice Systems (A/RES/67/187), December 20, 2012.
3 Preamble of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, (A/RES/67/187)
December 20, 2012.
4 http://theilf.org/south-africa-conference/conference-topics
Asian Journal of Legal Education
2(1) vii–viii
© 2015 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2322005814553889

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