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OAS Program of Judicial Facilitators Receives Innovative Justice Award 2011

  June 24, 2011

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today congratulated Pedro Vuskovic, current OAS Representative in Ecuador, and all Judicial Facilitators, for receiving the Innovative Justice Award 2011 given to the Inter-American Judicial Facilitators Program (PIFJ) of this Organization, in recognition of its work on supporting and developing innovative programs in the area of justice.

Insulza said this initiative, initially driven by Vuskovic in Nicaragua, where he was an OAS Representative for various years, "is perhaps one of our organization's programs that shows the most social sensitivity, faced with the need for justice in our countries' most vulnerable sectors, since through mediation a way can be found for solving conflict, where justice, for different reasons, takes a long time to arrive."

The PIFJ is a program of the OAS Secretariat of Legal Affairs that is implemented in Paraguay, Panama, Guatemala, and Nicaragua to promote access to justice to the most vulnerable sectors of the population. Currently there are more than 3,700 people in the Judicial Facilitators Service that have brought 123,000 services to the population, among them nearly 30,000 instances of mediation that have benefitted half a million people. In just a few years, the program has had an enormous impact, helping to reduce social conflict in neighborhoods and communities, as well as improving and increasing access to justice in places where it didn't exist before. "For this reason, we not only are very satisfied with the recognition awarded by this prize, but we hope that it serves to stimulate its expansion in other countries with similar needs," said the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza.

The Innovative Justice Award is given annually in The Hague, the Netherlands, by a consortium of five influential Dutch entities: the Hague Institute for the Internationalism of Law (HiiL), the Microjustice Initiative (MJI), the European Academy for Law and Legislation (EALL), the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC) and the Tilburg Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Civil Law and Conflict Resolution Systems (TISCO). The Jury in its 2011 edition was integrated by Hassane Cisse, General Vice Councilor for Research and Information of the World Bank; Gabriela Knaul, United Nations Special Rapporter for Judicial Independence; and Veronica Taylor, Director of the network of regulatory institutions of the National University of Australia.

Among its considerations, the jury noted that the PIFJ of the OAS “is recognized as the most successful innovation among competitors." “A system that incorporates the population in a judicial system, eliminates the vacuum that often exists between the formal legal system and real justice for those who most need it. The voluntary contribution of Facilitators contributes to the very needs of democratic governance. This type of service could be implemented in many countries around the world, reaching millions of people, but someone had to have the courage of beginning with the idea and develop it. We know it took blood, sweat, and tears to arrive to where you are today, that is the work of true innovators. It is always difficult to gauge the result of planting a seed, but in the case of Judicial Facilitators we not only have proof of their success but we also have a view of a more successful future," he added.

The PIFJ was selected to participate in the Innovative Justice Contest along with 15 judicial experiences from different parts of the world. In the initial phase of the contest, a vote was tallied online to limit the field to three finalists, in which the PIFJ received first place with 6,261 votes, followed by projects in the Netherlands (5,582 votes), Russia (346 votes), and China (255 votes).

Reference: E-741/11