Study on Legal Aid in Haiti - Bureaux d’Assistance Légale (BAL) : Lessons Learned

23/01/2017 - 30/04/2017

Target country

Legal aid has been at the core of the engagement of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in the rule of law (RoL) sector since 2007 to help increase stability and security in the country. In particular, the Mission has been working with other international partners in order to expand the establishment of the Bureaux d’Assistance Légale (BAL) across Haiti.

A key partner of MINUSTAH, in this regard, is the Haiti Justice Sector Strengthening Programme (JSSP/USAID), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). To facilitate the access of Haitians, particularly those who are indigent and vulnerable, to legal advice, legal representation and mediation services, JSSP/USAID aims to support improvements to the BAL and explore alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

Managed by the local bar associations, the general objectives of the BAL are to:

  • Provide legal assistance to indigent persons including those held in pre-trial detention;
  • Reduce the length of pre-trial detention;
  • Reduce the level of violence and criminality in disadvantaged neighbourhoods;
  • Ensure that access to justice is respected as a right, and that it is systematically enforced in criminal proceedings;
  • Deliver civic education, including the training of community leaders; and
  • Provide mediation services as an alternative dispute resolution method.

As MINUSTAH proceeds with its transitional planning and JSSP/USAID plans further support to legal aid, in light of the need for further improvement, the streamlining of procedures and methodology, as well as the strengthening of programme coordination, development and operational effectiveness, it is opportune to take stock of the good practices and lessons learned from the BAL initiatives.


Such a lessons learned study will feed into planning for the MINUSTAH transition and help to consolidate the legacy of the United Nations in developing the rule of law sector in Haiti. It will also help inform the DPKO Headquarters, other United Nations peace operations and United Nations funds and programs regarding the approaches applied in Haiti.

Mandating organisation / agency / department / ministry

Mandate outputs / products

The team will produce the following deliverables:

  • methodology note outlining the approach and steps to be taken by the Team for data collection and analysis. (The note will be finalized at least 10 days prior to the field mission);
  • presentation to key national and international stakeholders in-country on the preliminary findings of the study;
  • report (30-page maximum, excluding executive summary and annexes);
  • list of relevant data and information supporting the analysis, organized in tables/charts;
  • summary note (4 pages) on key lessons for future legal aid programs targeting peace operations.

Within 2 months of the completion of the final report, ISSAT will produce a note on the JCS lessons learned methodology. This will be developed in collaboration with JCS

Outcome objectives of mandate

The study will:

  • Identify good practices, reasons for success, as well as gaps to fill in future programming and implementation, supported by available quantitative and qualitative data, in core fields where the BALs have performed their activities, particularly legal aid, and contributed to the reduction of pre-trial detention and community violence;
  • Provide strategic recommendations to MINUSTAH, the UN Country Team (UNCT), JSSP and national partners such as the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJPS) on how to improve and potentially sustain and replicate the model and the work of the BAL, in the broader framework of the preparation of a national strategy on legal aid; and
  • Assess how and to what extent MINUSTAH support to the BAL is contributing to its mandate delivery;
  • Provide recommendations for future programming of legal aid projects in other peacekeeping and post-conflict settings.

Start date


End date



Specific Lessons Identified