United Nations Justice

Legal and Judicial Reform in Governance Operations

image of United Nations Justice

At the end of the 20th century, and at the dawn of the 21st, the United Nations was tasked with the administration of justice in territories placed under its executive authority, an undertaking for which there was no established precedent or doctrine. Examining the UN’s legal and judicial reform efforts in Kosovo and East Timor, this volume argues that rather than helping to establish a sustainable legal system, the UN’s approach detracted from it, as it confused ends with means.



Legal and judicial reform and the United Nations: Early practice and assumptions

This chapter has two main aims: firstly, it will introduce legal and judicial reform as an aspect of the UN’s early peacebuilding efforts, and highlight that many of the initial reform decisions were taken largely ad hoc; and secondly, it aims to uncover the roots of the UN’s assumptions about such reforms, especially as they were formed in the latter half of the 1990s. The chapter is thus divided into two sections. The first outlines the UN’s legal and judicial reform efforts in Namibia, El Salvador, Cambodia, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda and Bosnia. This discussion will demonstrate that the United Nations did indeed not have a particular approach when taking on such reforms. The second section goes on to show, however, how some aspects of this early experience, as well as some other factors, led to a crystallization of the organization’s assumptions about the direction it should take when undertaking such reforms.


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