Maria Dakolias


Many countries around the world are undertaking legal and judicial

reforms as part of their overall development programs. This has resulted

from growing recognition that economic and social progress cannot

sustainably be achieved without respect for the rule of law, democratic

consolidation, and effective human rights protection;' each of which

requires a well-functioning judiciary that can interpret and enforce the

laws equitably and efficiently. An effective judiciary is predictable,

resolves cases in a reasonable time frame, and is accessible to the public.

Many developing countries, however, find that their judiciaries advance

inconsistent case law and carry a large backlog of cases, thus eroding

individual and property rights, stifling private sector growth, and, in some

cases, even violating human rights. Delays affect both the fairness and the

efficiency of the judicial system; they impede the public's access to the

courts, which, in effect, weakens democracy, the rule of law and the ability

to enforce human rights.