In July 2007, the Economic and Social Council, by adopting resolution 2007/24 entitled "International cooperation for the improvement of access to legal aid in criminal justice systems, particularly in Africa", noted the prolonged incarceration of suspects and pre-trial detainees without their being provided with access to legal aid or to the courts and recognized that providing legal aid to suspects and prisoners may reduce the length of time suspects are held at police stations and detention centres, in addition to reducing the prison population, prison overcrowding and congestion in the courts.
Furthermore, the Council requested the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to convene an open-ended intergovernmental meeting of experts to study ways and means of strengthening access to legal aid in the criminal justice system, as well as the possibility of developing an instrument such as a declaration of basic principles or a set of guidelines for improving access to legal aid in criminal justice systems.
The Open-ended Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts will be held from 16 to 18 November 2011 in Building M, Board Room B at the Vienna International Centre.
To facilitate the work of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts, UNODC has developed a set of draft Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems elaborating ways and means to strengthen access to legal aid to be reviewed at the meeting.
The meeting will be conducted in English only, unless extra-budgetary resources become available to enable the holding of the meeting in all official languages.
The provisional agenda of the meeting and other relevant documentation will be made available in due course on this site.
Provisional agenda of the meeting English
Information for participants English
Draft Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems English
Draft report of the meeting