Publication: Taking the Rules of the Game Seriously : Mainstreaming Justice in Development - The World Bank's Justice for the Poor Program

Thumbnail Image
Files in English
English PDF (1.01 MB)

English Text (84.82 KB)
Sage, Caroline
Menzies, Nicholas
This paper explains the ideas and approaches that underpin the World Bank's Justice for the Poor (J4P) program. J4P is an approach to legal empowerment that focuses on mainstreaming sociolegal concerns into development processes, in sectors ranging from community-driven development and mining technical assistance to labor-rights advocacy and classic judicial reform. It has developed out of a perspective that legal and regulatory frameworks and related justice concerns cannot be conceived of in terms of a 'sector' or a specific set of institutions, but are integral to all development processes. Further, while there is broad agreement that justice reform and building an equitable justice sector is central to good governance and sustainable development, there is limited understanding of how equitable justice systems emerge and how such processes can be facilitated by external actors. J4P addresses these knowledge gaps with intensive research aimed at understanding the ways in which development processes shape and are shaped by local context, and in particular, how the poor engage with and/or are excluded from the multiple rule systems ('legal pluralism') governing their everyday lives. Through three case studies of the program's work, this paper illustrates how understanding the various roles of law in society provides an innovative means of analyzing and responding to particular development problems. The cases also demonstrate the principles that underpin J4P: development is inherently conflict-ridden; institutional reform should be seen as an iterative and thus 'interim' process; building local research capacity is critical to establishing an empirically based and context-driven reform process; integrating diverse sources of empirical evidence is needed to deeply engage in local contexts; and rule systems are ubiquitous in all areas of development, not just the 'legal sector.'
Link to Data Set
Sage, Caroline; Menzies, Nicholas; Woolcock, Michael. 2009. Taking the Rules of the Game Seriously : Mainstreaming Justice in Development - The World Bank's Justice for the Poor Program. Justice and development working paper series;no. 7. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
Report Series
Other publications in this report series
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
Associated URLs
Associated content