Growing Momentum on Justice for All


Following landmark events on justice co-hosted with the OECD and Open Government Partnership, CIC’s Maaike de Langen — head of research for the Task Force on Justice — provides an update on the Task Force and how partners can work together to make 2019 a transformational year for justice for all.

Task Force update

In the roadmap, the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies saw that without increased justice, it will be impossible to deliver the 2030 Agenda commitments for people, planet, prosperity, and peace.

The Task Force on Justice was created in response to the grand challenge of providing justice for all and met for the first time in Buenos Aires in February. It is chaired by ministers from Argentina, the Netherlands, and Sierra Leone and by The Elders.

The Task Force terms of reference and challenge paper provide an overview of the scope and ambition of our work — and we have made rapid progress over the past six months:

  • Data partners have begun to investigate the scale and nature of the justice gap, as we develop new insights into why people seek justice and the extent to which their needs are met. Partners in this working group include World Justice Project, HiiL, World Bank, OECD, UNDP, UNODC, and the Open Society Justice Initiative.
  • The OECD and World Bank are working together on a case for investment in justice — with experts working to develop a methodology at a recent technical workshop in Riga.
  • A series of groups are exploring what works to deliver access to justice for all, including the High-level Group on Justice for Women which met in The Hague in May, and which is led by UN Women and IDLO.
  • We have begun to develop commitments for the High-level Political Forum in 2019, as part of efforts to stand up for SDG16+.

It is exciting to see partners mobilize around a common agenda and determination to make 2019 a year of justice. We are seeing growing leadership for justice at all levels, from the local to the global.

Riga Statement on Justice for All

In early July in Riga, the OECD Policy Round Table was hosted by the OECD Public Governance Committee and the government of Latvia, in collaboration with the Pathfinders and the Task Force on Justice.

At this meeting, OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, made a passionate plea for greater efforts to provide access to justice for all. A lack of justice could send individuals and families into a cycle of decline, he said, while the OECD’s preliminary estimates suggest that unsolved legal problems costs countries 1–3% of their GDP.

He called for partners to work together for justice by calling for people to not lose the momentum here…we have generated a sense of urgency, a sense of emergency.

The Riga Statement Investing in Access to Justice for all! calls for concerted action at the local, national, and global level to achieve equal access to justice for all. Its key messages:

  • Put people at the center of justice systems. “We need to understand and meet the legal needs of individuals, communities and businesses.”
  • Injustice is costly. “Unmet legal needs create direct and indirect economic and social costs to individuals, communities and the state. These can take the form of health impacts, unemployment, lost productivity, mental illness, family instability, disrupted education for children, and gender-based violence, all of which can impact the public purse.”
  • Business-as-usual won’t close the justice gap. “Innovative approaches are needed in the delivery of people-centric and tailored legal and justice services to meet diverse legal needs and empower individuals, communities and business. The use of technology, non-lawyers, sectoral partnerships and independent civil society models all offer potential in addressing justice needs.”

The full Riga statement will be published shortly on the OECD Access to Justice Website.

Justice at the OGP Summit in Tbilisi

Access to justice and legal empowerment are vital to open governments and open societies, with justice recognized as a new priority for the Open Government Partnership at its summit last week in Georgia.

Ministers of Justice attending the summit came together to Stand up for Justice!

At the summit, the first ever side meeting of ministers of justice at the OGP was hosted by Tea Tsulukiani, Minister of Justice of Georgia, and Germán Garavano, Argentina’s Minister of Justice and Task Force co-chair. Ministers from Armenia, Albania, and Macedonia also took part.

There was a real sense of excitement in the room as the six ministers shared their experiences of reforming the justice sector and changing the attitudes of the judiciary while respecting the separation of powers.

Throughout, the focus was on finding practical solutions to make justice more accessible and affordable. Minister Garavano said:

Justice is a way to give rights to people. It is very important that the justice system is open to the public, with open information and transparency for all, especially for the most vulnerable people.

Justice commitments

OGP is an important platform for new commitments on justice, with OGP partners promoting the concept of open justice and calling on governments and civil society to use OGP to “drive vital justice reforms.”

Partners in the room stood up to offer support: OGP with its mechanisms to co-create commitments, the Task Force on Justice and the Open Society Justice initiative, the OECD with data and policy advice, and the World Bank with potential funding for commitments through the new OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund.

Between now and the HLPFs in 2019, most of OGP’s countries and sub-national partners will renew their National Action Plans. There is also potential for funding of new commitments through the OGP.

Work to shape these commitments accelerated during the OGP summit, as justice leaders from Argentina, Indonesia, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Ukraine came together for workshop organized by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

They brainstormed potential commitments for OGP national action plans, such as:

  • Recognize and strengthen community legal advice centers
  • Create multi-sectoral commitments for transitional justice processes
  • Increase financing for justice and explore sectoral funding for legal aid
  • Expand community-based legal services
  • Improve legal education and create an e-guide
  • Adopt and implement local government regulation on legal aid

We expect that an impressive raft of transformative commitments will be presented at the HLPFs in 2019, with Canada keeping up the pressure as it takes over from Georgia as lead government chair. The next OGP summit will be in Ottawa from 29–31 May 2019.

If your country is developing a new OGP National Action Plan, then work to include ambitious and achievable commitments on Opening Justice (read the collaborative guide Opening Justice).

Where next

Our updated justice calendar shows you when and where you can meet others that are standing up for justice.

You can get involved by:

  • Supporting the #JusticeforAll campaign: sign the petition here and jointhe 10 weeks of action for justice for all.
  • Subscribing to our newsletter to keep up to date on all that is happening on SDG16+.
  • Attending the 16+ Forum in Freetown, Sierra Leone from 8–10 October 2018 — justice will be featured on the last day and followed by the second meeting of the Task Force.