Delivering Justice for All
Guest blog by H.E. Germán Carlos Garavano, Minister of Justice and Human Rights in Argentina
On 21–22 February 2018, I was privileged to host the first meeting of the international Task Force on Justice along with my co-chairs the Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone, Joseph Kamara; the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sigrid Kaag (represented on this occasion by Jelte van Wieren); and Hina Jilani of the Elders.
We met in Buenos Aires to tackle the challenge of 4 billion people living around the world without access to justice. With us, we had some of the world’s leading justice advocates and leaders. Hina Jilani and Mary Robinson led a walk for justice as part of the celebrations for Nelson Mandela’s centenary. The Grassroots Justice Prize celebrated the work of those working for justice in communities across the world.
Here are three takeaways from the week.
1. We can only defeat poverty if we defeat injustice.
Justice is the missing link in every effort we make to defeat poverty and to deliver the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
Why? Injustice fuels political instability, insecurity and conflict. It locks people out of education and health services, condemns them to live in unsafe housing, and prevents them from getting jobs or starting businesses. These are the things that keep the poor stuck in a cycle of poverty.
While in Buenos Aires, Task Force members visited an Access to Justice Center in Villa 31, a poor community in the heart of the city. The center provides comprehensive legal services to citizens, while acting as a gateway to all public services.
Lawyers, psychologists, social workers and community mediators work together to help people solve family and property disputes, and neighbourhood conflicts. They tackle crime and gender-based violence. And they help the most disadvantaged people claim their constitutional rights.
The demand for basic legal services is huge. It shows that justice is essential if we are to progress at eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions.
2. The justice gap is huge, but we have the leadership and expertise to close it.
There are people and organizations all around the world who have fought for justice in their countries for decades. I was honored to be sitting around the table with some of them this week.
My fellow Task Force chair, Hina Jilani, is a lawyer who has battled for justice throughout her life. She formed Pakistan’s first all-woman law firm nearly 40 years ago and has tenaciously defended human rights in Pakistan and across the world.
Kalthoum Kennou is a judge from Tunisia, who has been at the forefront of the struggle for democracy, and for peace and inclusion. She stood against repression during the years of authoritarian rule and, after the revolution, was the first woman to run for the Tunisian presidency.
Allyson Maynard Gibson was also in Buenos Aires, a Bahamian barrister, politician and community rights advocate. She has fought for laws that protect women and children, and, as Attorney General, has dramatically improved the efficiency of the justice system.
These are just three of those who have come together through the Task Force (please read the impressive biographies of the other members). We are also backed by leading organizations working on justice from all over the world.
Together, we are convinced that we can trigger a rapid acceleration in the provision of justice to the billions of people who currently live outside the protection of the law.
3. The Task Force is at the heart of a growing movement that is working for justice for all.
At our first meeting, the Task Force began work on four areas.
First, we have started to analyze the size of the justice gap, as we ask what people need and want when they seek justice, and what kind of justice they currently receive.
Second, we are building the case for investment in justice and exploring strategies for financing equal access to justice for all.
Third, we are reviewing the evidence for what works, so that we can develop recommendations on the strategies, tools and approaches that will close the justice gap.
And most importantly, we are working towards a call to action, aiming to act as a platform for governments and partners to make new commitments to implement SDG16.3 and other targets for justice from the 2030 Agenda.
In 2019, my President will join leaders from across the world in New York for the first four-yearly review of the 2030 Agenda. Ahead of this summit, we will unite organizations and people around the world who are already fighting for justice. We will build a shared vision and agenda, and turn the aspirations of the SDGs into action.
Please keep in touch with the Task Force and send us ideas that will strengthen our research, and your thoughts on how you can be part of the movement for justice for all.
The Task Force is an initiative of CIC’s Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a group of national governments, international organizations and networks committed to achieving the aims set out in the Sustainable Development Goals to provide access to justice for all. The Pathfinders are convened by the governments of Brazil, Sierra Leone, and Switzerland.
H.E. Germán Carlos Garavano is the Minister of Justice and Human Rights in Argentina. He is co-chair of the international Task Force on Justice and hosted the first meeting of the Task Force in Buenos Aires on 21–22 February 2018.