The central mission of the World Bank is the alleviation of poverty, defined not only as a lack of resources, but as a sense of powerlessness and the absence of basic security as well. The latter two dimensions of poverty in particular are exacerbated when a nation's law and justice institutions perform poorly and the rule of law is weak or nonexistent. While the elite can often use wealth or connections to cushion themselves from the impact of a poorly performing legal system, these alternatives are not open to the poor. They are the ones most vulnerable when the rule of law is absent.
The World Bank's Comprehensive Development Framework, which guides the Bank in its work, singles out the critical importance of an "effective legal and judicial system." It states that: "Without the protection of human and property rights, and a comprehensive framework of laws, no equitable development is possible. A government must ensure that it has an effective system of property, contract, labor, bankruptcy, commercial codes, personal rights laws and other elements of a comprehensive legal system that is effectively, impartially and cleanly administered by a well-functioning, impartial and honest judicial and legal system."
For more information about World Bank projects and other activities addressing law and justice institutions, click on the introduction or the regions below to learn more about activities in a country of interest.
Introduction to World Bank Law and Justice Reform Projects
East Asia and Pacific
Europe and Central Asia
Latin America and the Caribbean
Middle East and North Africa