At the request of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Vera Institute of Justice, as part of a network of eight expert organizations, has been providing technical assistance since 2011 to DFID offices in conflict and post-conflict countries as part of DFID’s Conflict, Crime and Violence (CCV) Results Initiative project, also known as the Helpdesk Project. This assistance aims to address the absence of systematic expert support for measuring the impact of conflict, security, and justice programs in developing countries and countries emerging from conflict, as well as a lack of coherent outreach across DFID. The goals of this standardization are better impact measurement and information gathering.
At the request of the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary-General (EOSG), from May 2012 to November 2012, the Vera Institute of Justice conducted a field-based impact assessment of rule of law activities implemented by UN peacekeeping missions in Colombia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Vera works collaboratively with reformers in China to facilitate justice innovations and policy changes that are rooted in experience, guided by empirical methods, and consistent with international human rights standards. Vera’s work in China, supported by the Ford Foundation, builds on the knowledge and drive of local universities and government partners.
Since 2009, the Vera Institute of Justice has been working with its partners in the Altus Global Alliance to implement Police Station Visitors Week, a unique yearly event where community members are invited into local police stations to rate their stations using a simple assessment tool. The project is designed to build local community-based organizations’ capacity to influence policing programming. Police Station Visitors Week works to engage grassroots advocacy groups focused on empowering and improving opportunities among those who are poor and marginalized, including women, youth, ethnic and religious minorities, older citizens, and people with disabilities by strategically engaging government entities on the quality of services provided by the police institutions.
The Vera Fellowship in Justice Research and Innovation helps young researchers from China develop and test evidence-based innovations to improve China’s justice system. Fellows work with Vera staff for one month and visit Vera demonstration projects, spin-offs, and relevant agencies in the U.S. justice system as they design pilot programs and evaluations to be implemented in China. Recent fellows have developed programs to prevent the use of torture in police interrogations, reduce the number of juveniles in detention, and make the public criminal defense system more accessible and effective.
Through the United Nations Rule of Law Indicators Project, Vera seeks to advance the rule of law by providing national authorities, the United Nations, and donor countries with a practical way to identify the strengths of, and challenges to, their nation’s law enforcement agencies, judicial system, and correctional system. The project focuses on developing indicators—statistical references that present an overview of change in a given system—for criminal justice institutions, but does not strive to rank countries.
Vera and three fellow Altus Global Alliance members formed the Vera-Altus Justice Indicators Project to develop a set of indicators that could be used in diverse international settings to identify problems with adherence to the rule of law and chart progress toward improving access to justice.