The Legal Harmonization Initiative (LHI) is a joint undertaking of several international financial institutions (IFI), including the World Bank, bilateral aid agencies and United Nations agencies in support of the implementation of commitments expressed in the Paris Declaration to improve aid effectiveness through harmonization and alignment. The LHI is aimed at harmonizing and streamlining legal tools among donors and partner countries, including the removal of key legal impediments to harmonized approaches, towards aid effective operations at the country level. The LHI will also provide an ongoing forum for legal, operational and policy advisers to discuss and share knowledge across institutions on legal and policy issues relevant to the harmonization and alignment agenda.
As the commitments under the Paris Declaration to improve aid delivery and management and change existing business practices are translated into action, it is becoming increasingly evident that the role of lawyers in the implementation process at the country level is critical. Together with operational and policy advisers, legal advisers are facing new issues in procurement, financial management procedures, governance and anticorruption when multiple donors strive to coordinate efforts in the context of joint financing and trust fund arrangements.
In this evolving context, policy advisers and legal counsel, working together in a more systematic fashion, can contribute significantly to harmonization and alignment. All have a key role in developing operational policies and procedures, and in rolling out and interpreting these policies and procedures in the context of actual projects and programs. The involvement of all three groups of practitioners is critical to identifying and addressing potential legal, operational and policy issues—particularly (but not exclusively) mandate, fiduciary and safeguard issues—before they become obstacles to effective progress.
Moreover, development institutions face common legal challenges in a variety of matters relevant to the activities they finance. Sharing knowledge and experience in these areas can help in developing solutions on matters of common interest. More importantly, developing joint solutions to these issues can facilitate harmonization of approaches, and thereby facilitate joint operations.