February 2019 Newsletter


Welcome to your monthly roundup of 16+ news and views from the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies.

The Hague was the worldwide center of SDG16 + during the first week of February, as justice leaders from around the world came together to get serious about the promise of Justice for All by 2030.

As well as the Task Force meeting, nearly 200 justice champions attended the Justice Partners Forum; Minister Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands hosted ministerial meetings; and an impressive series of side events were held. The week saw the largest international gathering on access to justice in at least 10 years.

To bring you up to speed, this month’s Pathfinders’ newsletter focuses on the outcomes of #JusticeHague19.

If you find this newsletter useful, please pass it on to others working on the SDG16+ targets for peace, justice and inclusion. Subscribe or unsubscribe here — and check out the sdg16.plus website.

1. Ministerial Meeting on Justice for All by 2030

On 6 and 7 February, Minister Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and International Development, led a ministerial meeting on Justice for All by 2030, with her fellow Task Force co-chairs, Minister Germán Garavano of Argentina, Minister Priscilla Schwartz of Sierra Leone and Hina Jilani, an Elder.

The meeting focused on the opportunities to strengthen commitments to access to justice ahead of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) and the SDG Summit in 2019 (see last month’s newsletter for a briefing on preparations for these events.

  • Ministers of justice, their deputies or attorney generals participated from: Afghanistan, Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Libya, the Netherlands, Niger, Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Uganda, and Ukraine.
  • The meeting was also attended by ministers for international cooperation, leaders of international organizations, and UN officials, as well as the Elders.
  • Ministers explored strategies for the achievement of SDG 16.3 and potential commitments to deliver on access to justice for all.

2. Declaration on Equal Access to Justice for All by 2030

The ministerial meeting adopted the Declaration on Equal Access to Justice for All by 2030. In order to move from justice for the few to justice for all, participants emphasized the need to:

  • Put people and their legal needs at the center of justice systems. Understand what people need and want when they seek justice, which obstacles they face, and what kind of justice they receive.
  • Solve justice problems. Transform justice institutions and services through a broader range of justice providers, using high-tech as well as low-tech innovative solutions, based on data, evidence and learning, while taking into account the specificities of each context.
  • Improve the quality of justice journeys. Empower people to understand, use and shape the law, while offering them fair informal and formal justice processes that meet their needs in terms of both procedures and outcomes.
  • Use justice for prevention. Make use of mediation and other methods to prevent disputes from escalating; address legacies of human rights violations; and invest in justice systems that are trustworthy and legitimate.
  • Provide people with means to access services and opportunities. Break down the legal, administrative, and practical barriers that people face to obtain documents, access public services, and participate fully in society and the economy, while promoting gender equality.

3. Justice Partners Forum

Nearly 200 justice champions came together at the Justice Partners Forum, mostly representing organizations that have contributed to the research of the Task Force on Justice over the past year.

Co-chairs, members, and partners of the Task Force on Justice led and participated in the thematic sessions. In the morning they discussed four themes at the core of the report of the Task Force. In the afternoon they focused on making the most of upcoming opportunities in 2019.

  • Two thematic sessions focused on the Justice Gap, discussing data on the needs and experiences of users of justice systems, and on Making the Case for Investment, via a better understanding of the costs and benefits of investing in justice.
  • Two other sessions discussed Resolving Justice Problems, by focusing on improving people’s justice journeys, and on Justice as Prevention, discussing how increased access to justice can help avoid future conflicts and violence.
  • The afternoon thematic sessions looked at the months ahead and discussed how to make the most of the High-level Political Forum in July and the SDG Summit in September; how to strengthen international support for justice; and how to mobilize national commitments for delivery of SGD16.3.
  • In a thematic session focused on Justice for Women, emerging findings of the High-Level Group on Justice for Women were presented.

4. The Global Justice Gap: over 5 billion people have unmet justice needs

In its final report, the Task Force on Justice will present the first synthesis of the scale and the nature of the global justice gap. In The Hague, the World Justice Project presented the methodology for measuring the justice gap, as well as preliminary numbers:

Worldwide, more than 5 billion people do not have meaningful access to justice.

  • At least 244 million people live in extreme conditions of injustice — they are modern slaves, are stateless, or their countries or communities are riddled with conflict, violence and lawlessness.
  • 1.5 billion people cannot resolve their justice problems — their legal needs go unmet because of barriers they cannot overcome or structural injustices they face.
  • 4.4 billion people are excluded from the opportunities the law provides — they lack legal identity or other crucial documentation related to employment, family or property, and are therefore unable to access economic opportunities and public services, or the protections of the law.

SDG16.3 aims to ensure equal access to justice for all by 2030 and other targets cover different aspects of just societies. For the first time this global estimate of the justice gap gives us a sense of the scale of the problem and the task ahead if we are to deliver on the promise of SDG16.

5. Speech by Minister Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands

In her opening speech at the Justice Partners Forum, Minister Sigrid Kaag spoke about access to justice as a crucial part of the SDG agenda. She made four key points:

  • Access to justice allows people to participate in society, assume their rights, be empowered and realize their potential. It is a central part of our quest both for stability and for sustainable and inclusive growth.
  • Grievances related to exclusion, including those related to justice or security, are direct drivers of conflict. The realization of SDG16 forms a pathway to peace.
  • In order to deliver justice for all, we need to be willing to question our basic assumptions about the justice system and what it is meant to do. We need a different approach, which puts people, not institutions, at its heart.
  • People-centered justice requires new and better data, and a transformation in how we resolve and prevent justice problems. Perhaps most importantly, we need to open up the justice sector, allowing for different service providers to address different needs.

6. The Elders’ New Access to Justice Program

The Elders launched their new program on Access to Justice in The Hague, with a discussion between Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders, Hina Jilani of The Elders, Minister Germán Garavano, Minister of Justice for Argentina, and Sabrina Mahtani, Founder of AdvocAid (Sierra Leone).

The Elders will engage directly with heads of state and policymakers to amplify the voices of grassroots activists and civil society, and catalyse necessary actions to deliver justice for all. They have four recommendations on access to justice:

  1. Delivering access to justice is critical to the full implementation of SDG16 and the wider 2030 Development Agenda
  2. Legal systems must be reformed and modernized so they are responsive, innovative, inclusive, people-centered and uphold human rights
  3. Independent legal support, such as community-based paralegals, should be supported to help citizens navigate systems and find practical, timely solutions
  4. Violence against women and girls must be addressed urgently as a profound global injustice, by political, traditional and religious leaders.

Read The Elders’ blog on the launch and the week’s events in The Hague.

7. Report Launch — Innovating Justice: Needed & Possible

On 6 February, the Innovation Working Group of the Task Force on Justice, led by HiiL, published their report, Innovating Justice: Needed & Possible. The report underlines the severity and size of the global justice gap through its review of evidence of unmet justice needs, and explores investment possibilities for promising innovation areas for achieving SDG 16.3. Innovation is positioned as a key factor in meeting justice needs and facilitating the necessary changes to do so. Among the key recommendations of the report are:

  • Justice should be people-centered. A focus on outcomes is needed.
  • See costs differently. Justice systems don’t only cost money, they also provide ‘revenue’ and benefits in the social and economic sense. Opening up the financing of justice innovation is crucial.
  • New technologies and services, both with regard to new technological advances and 21st century upgrades of ancient traditions, are available to close the justice gap.
  • Justice systems should continue to move to open up the sector, allowing non-lawyers in.

8. Presentation of Recommendations on Transitional Justice and SDG16+

At a side event in The Hague, the Working Group on Transitional Justice and SDG16+, led by the ICTJ, presented the recommendations it has prepared in support of the Task Force on Justice. Amongst other points, the Working Group on Transitional Justice emphasizes that:

  • Context matters when it comes to achieving the SDGs; extraordinary justice interventions are required in dealing with massive and serious human rights violations.
  • Victims and affected communities need to be provided with the tools, space, and access to information necessary to participate in and shape the transitional justice process.
  • Context-specific and innovative responses to gross human rights violations can help stop the recurrence of violations and prevent violent conflict and authoritarianism.

9. IDLO Report on Customary and Informal Justice Systems

On the eve of the Justice Partners Forum and the Task Force on Justice meetings in The Hague, IDLO launched two policy briefs on Engagement with Customary and Informal Justice Systems. The briefs provide insights and detail good practices for both policymakers and practitioners, and contain five recommendations for policymakers:

  • Customary and informal justice systems enjoy high levels of use and acceptance in their communities. There is a need to capitalize on the public legitimacy of customary and informal justice systems.
  • Justice for women and marginalized populations compels engagement with legal pluralism.
    The potential of customary and informal justice systems as a means to access justice for women and marginalized populations should be harnessed, while recognizing challenges.
  • Customary and informal justice systems offer opportunities to generate commitment to the rule of law. Their capacity should be enhanced to advance the rule of law and inclusive development.
  • The value added of customary and informal justice systems is specific to the context in which they operate. It is important to analyze the local context carefully and assess specific advantages and risks.
  • Engaging with customary and informal justice systems offers the opportunity to enhance respect for human rights while addressing the needs of justice seekers.

10. Working sessions and panel on local governments and access to justice

In the Hague Humanity Hub, a series of working sessions were held that brought together justice champions from all walks of life, from international organizations to community paralegals, from justice entrepreneurs to artists and musicians, and from legal hackers to justice data geeks.

  • The closing session brought together a panel on addressing the justice needs of ordinary people through partnerships with local governments.
  • Deputy Mayor of The Hague, Ms. Saskia Buines: “Here in The Hague, we also need to realize the SDG’s, especially SDG 16.3 on access to justice. For example, we see that despite legal proceedings, people’s actual problem often persists, so we are working to make justice more user-friendly.”
  • Gustavo Maurino of the Ministry of Justice of Argentina: “The mission of our legal aid centers is to solve people’s justice problems. We need to develop institutional empathy. Not provide bureaucratic responses.”

11. Innovating Justice Forum

In case you missed it: The winner of the 2019 Innovating Justice Award was Sorieba Daffae of http://CrimeSync.xyz ! Well done @SoriebaDaffae, the jury were very impressed by the #justice #innovation.https://innovatingjusticeforum.com/crimesync-wins-the-innovating-justice-awards-2019/ … #IJF19 #legaltech #goodgov #accountability #SierraLeone

Over 350 individuals from tech, big data, lawyers and legal academics, government, justice leaders, finance and social entrepreneurs came together for HiiL’s Innovating Justice Forum on 5–6 February in The Hague. The forum responded to the shift to people-centred and evidence-based justice. Discussions covered:

  • From justice innovation to scale, the theme of the Forum, underlined the size of the justice gap and the need to adopt new ways of working to effectively deal with the justice gap.
  • Innovation that touches people’s lives. Sessions and speakers discussed ways to improve access to justice in a more user-friendly way.
  • Building more inclusive societies. Participants explored and heard from practitioners how data can lead to action and the reframing of justice as a social good.
  • Innovating Justice Awards, an annual competition organized by HiiL to promote justice innovation and entrepreneurship. This year’s winner was CrimeSync from Sierra Leone, an electronic case management web and mobile application for justice sector stakeholders.

12. Third and Final Meeting of the Task Force on Justice

The Task Force on Justice held its third and final meeting in The Hague from 6–8 February. This meeting built on the first and second meetings in Buenos Aires, Argentina in February 2018, and Freetown, Sierra Leone in October 2018.

At the meeting, members agreed on key messages and headline findings of the Task Force, identified areas for further strengthening of the draft report, and developed the call to action. Some thoughts from the co-chairs:

  • Minister Germán Garavano of Argentina compared the transformation required to moving a very big stone: “The important thing is that we all move together to move this stone and change reality.”
  • Inspired by the discussions in the ministerial meeting and the energy of the justice partners forum, Hina Jilani of the Elders highlighted the importance of working as partners: “Today, I feel I’m not alone,” she said.
  • Minister Priscilla Schwartz of Sierra Leone supported this: “We don’t need to feel as if this stone cannot be moved, we can move it with our determination. I believe that each of us has the ability to make change.”

13. Commitments and HLPF

Building on the new partnerships that were forged in The Hague, and the political leadership of the governments attending the ministerial meeting, the justice community needs to:

  • Come together around a shared vision and narrative, key messages, mutually-supporting strategies.
  • Work together to maximize impact at the HLPF in July and the SDG Summit in September, building and communicating a powerful message about the strategies needed to achieve justice for all.
  • Encourage governments and other partners to make commitments to accelerate action in 2019, which will provide a platform for ambitious implementation in the 2020s.
  • Use the power of our real world and virtual networks for an unprecedented mobilization.

14. Upcoming Events

Looking ahead, there are many events that will continue to build momentum and mobilize commitments within the justice community to prepare for the HLPF and SDG Summits.

  • OECD Global Policy Roundtable on Equal Access to Justice from 27–28 March in Lisbon, Portugal will feature discussions on country progress and commitments, people-centered justice pathways, and the launch of their report on Access to Justice.
  • World Justice Forum, convened by the World Justice Project, will take place from 29 April — 2 May in The Hague. This event will include the official launch of the report by the Task Force on Justice.
  • Open Government Partnership Global Summit, from 29–31 May in Ottawa, Canada will bring together OGP members as well as local and regional governments, civil society groups, academia, and others. The goal is to share knowledge and create solutions for more open and transparent governments around the globe.

15. Launch of the Report on Justice for Women

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, 13 March, when the High Level Group on Justice for Women will launch their report. Further event details will be added as they become available and may be found here.

The 63rd session of the Commission on the Status for Women will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11–22 March 2019.

The High-Level Group has identified five drivers to increase justice for women:

  • Eliminate discriminatory laws to empower women, signal that certain types of behavior are unacceptable, and improve standards and protection.
  • Prevent and respond to intimate partner violence through legal reform and tailored support from the justice system, as part of a broader multi-sectoral response.
  • Overcome disadvantage for poor and marginalized women by providing access to legal aid, promoting legal literacy, and overcoming poverty barriers.
  • Empower women — economically and as citizens, enabling legal identity, strengthening women’s land rights, and using collective action as a catalyst for change.
  • Ensure equal representation of women in decision-making at all levels in the justice sector.

16. More Pathfinders News

Pathfinders welcomes new members:
Germany joined the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. Now with 25 members and other partners, the Pathfinders will work together to seize the opportunity at the High-level Political Forum in July and SDG Summit in September to increase ambitions and actions for SDG16+.

If you are interested in joining the Pathfinders, please get in touch: pathfinders@sdg16.plus

Pathfinders breakfast meeting:
Last month, the Government of Switzerland, a founding convener of the Pathfinders, brought together representatives from member states for a high-level breakfast briefing to discuss preparations for the High-level Political Forum and SDG Summit in 2019. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, with a briefing from H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC and Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

At the briefing, representatives confirmed their support for the delivery of SDG16+. Member states agreed to showcase progress, accelerate actions, and mobilize commitments for SDG16+ at the High-level Political Forum and the SDG Summit.

2019 PyeongChang Global Peace Forum:
PyeongChang Global Peace Forum was held in PyeongChang, South Korea this month. More than 500 delegates, representing 200 organizations from 50 countries gathered in PyeongChang to review the crises and prospects of peace and to prepare the framework for the 2030 PyeongChang Agenda for Peace (PCAP).

The PyeongChang Declaration for Peace 2019 was adopted at the Forum, which highlights the importance of SDG16: “Sustainable development, conflict prevention, and disarmament are indivisible and fundamental for a peaceful and prosperous future. Governments and official agencies must demonstrate their commitment to the prevention of violence and conflict by accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, including as a priority Goal 16.

Rachel Locke, Pathfinders’ Head of Research for SDG16.1 participated on the panel for SDG16 and Peace and underlined the urgent action needed to reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.

Plus… what we’re reading this month:

Community Paralegals and the Pursuit of Justice edited by Namati’s Vivek Maru ▪ 6 themes for scaling corporate action on the SDGs by James Gomme ▪ Calls for expressions of interest in Ireland’s 2019/20 SDG Champions Program ▪ UNDP’s Gender Equality as an Accelerator for Achieving the SDGs report ▪ World Vision’s ‘No Choice’ report on ending the use of child soldiers ▪ IDLO’s policy and issue brief on Engagement with Customary and Informal Justice Systems ▪ UNIDIR’s Gender & Disarmament Resource PackThe data challenges undermining the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by Mahmoud Mohieldin and Haishan Fu ▪ End All Corporal Punishment of Children’s global report 2018 ▪ World Justice Project’s Access to Justice Solutions prize ▪ World Justice Project’s working paper on Measuring the Justice GapMeasuring Access to Justice: Transformation and Technicality in SDG 16.3 in the Global Policy Journal