The Strengthening the capacity of the judicial system and promoting the rule of Law in Mali Phase II project, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, aimed to support national stakeholders for comprehensive reform of the judicial system. The project was implemented between July 2021 and July 2023 with a budget of 2,480,090 EUR and followed an earlier project phase which focused on an assessment of the Malian judicial system.

The project activities comprised training of judicial system actors, study tours to Rwanda and Senegal, digitalisation of the judicial system, and translation and dissemination of handbooks, materials, booklets, and legal documents. The project implementing partner was the Institut National de Formation Judiciaire du Mali – "Maître Demba DIALLO" (INFJ).

The evaluation purpose was to assess the relevance, coherence, efficiency, effectiveness, likelihood of impact and likelihood of sustainability of the project, together with cross-cutting issues including gender and human rights; to identify good practices and any challenges the project encountered; to identify lessons to be learned; and to formulate recommendations, to inform similar projects in the country and elsewhere.

The evaluation followed a mixed-methods approach consisting of key informant interviews (33) and a participants survey (267 responses) as the main data collection methods.  The main challenge encountered during the evaluation was the timing for data collection, which occurred during the December-January holiday season. The lack of baseline data also made the impact assessment more difficult.

Key evaluation findings and conclusions

Relevance. The evaluation found the project strongly aligned with the Malian judicial system needs and overarching rule of law objectives and very relevant. Relevance of the project was achieved through extensive consultation with stakeholders. However, the capacity assessment developed in the previous phase of the project was not comprehensive.

The evaluation also found the project strongly aligned with national and international frameworks, SDGs 16, 5, and 4; as well as UNITAR strategic framework and objectives. The project, however, did not address disability and environmental sustainability issues.

Coherence. The project was complementary with other UNITAR programing in Mali and in the region, but there was no evidence of cooperation between projects. The project could have also made better use of coordination and cooperation frameworks considered in project design. Yet, the project was aligned with donor priorities about stabilization in the region.

Effectiveness. The project was effective in supporting the judicial system reform by enhancing knowledge, skills and cooperation and made strong contribution in improving knowledge, skills, and practices of judicial system actors, but fell short on its modernization and digitalization component. Other contributions to Mali’s justice system and justice sector professionals were found, particularly to mediation practices for minor criminal offences, application of electoral law, ethical and professional conduct, and stronger adherence to procedural requirements. The project also facilitated cooperation between justice sector institutions and units within these institutions, although informally.

Factors contributing to the project’s effectiveness include UNITAR added value, training methodology, project flexibility and demand-driven approach, ownership and geographic scope, holistic and inclusive approaches, and management and team dynamics. On the other hand, factors hindering project effectiveness were monitoring systems, familiarity of trained trainers with UNITAR training approach, delegation of responsibilities in content creation, and turnaround time in providing concept notes and project applications.

The project made efforts to promote gender equality and inclusivity, including the delivery of focused training on gender-based violence (GBV) and protection of minors and vulnerable persons, but challenges remained in attaining gender representation in the training activities.

Efficiency. The project was implemented timely and cost-efficiently with only minor deviations observed. The logistical support provided by INFJ significantly contributed to the smooth execution of activities, enhancing cost-effectiveness. Human and financial resources were generally utilised as planned, but greater resources are required for content development and advance payment for certain activities would alleviate timing constraints.

Likelihood of impact. The project is likely to make contributions to reforming the Malian judicial system. Changes in understanding, behaviour and practices among judicial personnel have been observed, leading to more effective and sensitive handling of cases and potential improved public confidence. Improved collaboration and cooperation between legal institutions has also been fostered.

Moreover, the project contributed to the promotion of human rights, gender equality, and GBV prevention.

Likelihood of sustainability. The project results are likely to be maintained. The main project components contributing to project sustainability are the ToT, creation and dissemination of training manuals, and translation and distribution of legal documents. Other contributing factors were UNITAR training methodologies, quality assessment, and monitoring tools; stakeholders engagement, project emphasis on networking and collaboration, and interest in neighbouring countries in adapting project lessons. On the other hand, challenges to sustainability included personnel turnover and reliance on external funding sources.


The evaluation issued six recommendations:

Recommendation 1 (high priority): When undertaking a needs, capacity or other initial assessment, and in the formulation of justice sector projects, conduct a comprehensive and inclusive context analysis, providing stakeholder mapping and the identification of gaps in existing and desired levels of performance, challenges, priorities, risks and barriers to inform project design and ensure alignment with national priorities and sector needs.

Recommendation 2 (medium priority): Strengthen collaboration and coordination between justice sector stakeholders, including UNITAR, Implementing Partner, Ministries of Justice and government agencies, civil society organisations, and development partners to enhance coherence and synergy between different initiatives and programmes.

Recommendation 3 (medium priority): Consider in project design the inclusion of formal or structured mechanisms for cooperation and knowledge sharing among justice sector institutions to enhance effectiveness and efficiency in delivering justice services and promoting the rule of law.

Recommendation 4 (high priority): Strengthen results frameworks and monitoring and evaluation approaches and activities (including assessment of learning), in order to track progress   and assess project outcomes and impacts more effectively.

Recommendation 5 (medium-high priority): Strengthen the development of qualitative training content, to ensure the setting of a clear division of responsibilities between project parties, and the allocation of subject-matter expertise.

Recommendation 6 (medium priority): Strengthen institutional organisational and financial stability, and ongoing capacity-building to ensure the sustainability of project results.

Lessons learned

Nine lessons learned were generated through the evaluation.

Contextual assessment: Before initiating a justice sector project, it is essential to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the national and sector context, to ensure understanding the environment, including political, social, and legal aspects.

Continuous consultation and engagement: Projects in the justice sector require continuous consultation and engagement with stakeholders, to ensure that the project remains responsive to the evolving needs and challenges within the sector.

Incorporation of gender and HRBA approaches: Gender and HRBA integrated into project design and implementation help to address inequalities and ensure equitable access to justice for all.

Formalisation of cooperation mechanisms: The integration of formalised mechanisms for cooperation in project design contributes to enhancing effectiveness and efficiency within the judicial sector.

Robust results framework and monitoring: Ensure Logical Frameworks (LogFrame) have clearly defined objectives, baselines, activities, and with qualitative and quantitative indicators.

Familiarisation with and adaptation of UNITAR approaches, methodologies and tools: Ensure project teams are fully familiarised with UNITAR training, quality assurance and monitoring guidelines and tools, to mitigate initial challenges and misunderstandings.

Engagement of subject-matter experts: Engage subject-matter experts to develop training content collaboratively with trainers, to ensure the quality and relevance of the materials and training delivered.

Addressing personnel movement challenges: Develop strategies to address challenges related to personnel movement within justice institutions to ensure continuity of training and institutional support.

Ensuring financial sustainability: Explore diverse funding sources and partnerships to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project beyond external funding.

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