Justice Action Update

April 2022

Working for people-centered justice while the world is on fire feels a bit like renovating your basement while the roof is being blown off your house. Does it make any sense to keep going? Our answer is — not surprisingly — yes, because the foundations of our societies are deteriorating, and our institutions are in urgent need of repair.

In the words of the UN Secretary-General: “There is a growing disconnect between people and the institutions that serve them, with many feeling left behind and no longer confident that the system is working for them.” This is not a global North or a global South issue — it is relevant in every country of the world. This mismatch between what our institutions offer and what people need, is perhaps most relevant in the justice sector.

One year ago, a group of countries formed the Justice Action Coalition and wrote to the UN Secretary-General: “We believe that transforming justice, by putting people at the center, is key to reviving the bonds that hold our societies together, and to re-establishing trust between people and communities, and governments.”

This first edition of the Justice Action Update reports on recent activity of the Justice Action Coalition, includes an overview of new data and evidence on people-centered justice, and contains a calendar high-lighting upcoming events and meetings.

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Coalition Update

The senior level meeting of the coalition last November, focused on increased collaboration in the lead up to the 2023 SDG Summit. It resulted in an agreed Joint Action Plan which includes a list of national and international priorities as well as joint deliverables. These joint deliverables will be produced by and with organizations working on people-centered justice.

A group of partners met for a Justice Strategy Day on 8 March 2022 in Washington DC, to discuss plans to shape the workstreams and joint deliverables. The meeting was an informal exchange, generously hosted by the World Justice Project and with participants from HiiL, WJP, IDLO IDRC, OECD, OGP, Pathfinders, the Netherlands, UNDP, UN Women and USAID.

Participants agreed to work together on a set of joint deliverables on people-centered justice for 2023, expressed willingness to support countries that make the pivot towards people-centered justice and discussed the idea of creating a more permanent structure that coordinates and amplifies efforts to put people at the center of justice and brainstormed modalities.

The first Senior Level Meeting was held on April 14, 2022, exactly one year after the Ministerial meeting which launched the Justice Action Coalition. Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Liberia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United States, and Zambia were represented, as were participants from The Elders, g7+, HiiL, ICTJ, IDLO, OECD, OGP, Pathfinders, UNDP, UN Women, UN’s EOSG, and WJP.

Participants discussed the proposed outcomes for the Ministerial Meeting on 30 May 2022, including launching the Justice Appeal 2023 and the formation of a task team to develop a more permanent structure for the coalition. They shared national updates and plans and reviewed the updated joint deliverables for the coalition for 2023.

Photo by Praveen Kumar Nandagiri on Unsplash

Canada in the spotlight

Gathering and analyzing people-centered justice data to steer the transformation of justice systems sits at the core of the work of the Justice Action Coalition. In this update we put the spotlight on Justice Canada for its work in collecting people-centered justice data.

World Justice Forum

Join the largest global event on justice this year, the World Justice Forum, in The Hague from 30 May-3 June. If you can’t make it to The Hague, then be sure to participate online, but in any case: register now!

The program looks amazing and includes, from the Pathfinders side and amongst many others, the Ministerial meeting and a senior level meeting of the Justice Action Coalition, the launch of the Ibero-American Justice Alliance, and events organized by the Young Justice Leaders, the Justice for Children Working Group and the Working Group on Customary and Informal Justice.

Photo by: Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

Opinions, blogs and other news

  • Hila Jilani, of the Elders, shared her reflections on the current situation in Ukraine and reminded the importance of access to justice and steps needed to be taken to ensure it.
  • Roger Duthie, from the ICTJ, published an article on the preventative role of transitional justice and its relationship with peace processes.
  • Sam Muller of HiiL, and Maaike de Langen of Pathfinders wrote on Devex: We must talk about better justice systems, proposing four concrete actions to deliver people-centered justice.
  • USAID has released its first ever Rule of Law policy for external review. The policy shifts the Rule of Law paradigm to people-centered justice.
  • Sara Hossain of BLAST and Sam Muller of HiiL, were invited to speak as experts during informal consultations in which UN member states debated Our Common Agenda.
  • Sarah Papineau made statements on behalf of IDLO at the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee and at the Thematic Consultation on Our Common Agenda
  • Pathfinders announced the first ever cohort of Young Justice Leaders, representing all regions, diverse areas of expertise and a variety of backgrounds.
  • Maha Jweied presented an overview of all justice commitments made by OGP members in their National Action Plans, in her paper Taking Action for Justice.

Latest reports on people-centered justice

Upcoming events

  • UN DESA, IDLO and the Government of Italy are organizing the SDG 16 Conference 2022, to be held from 21 to 22 April in a hybrid format, focused on a people-centered approach to governance.
  • The World Justice Forum will be held in The Hague from 30 May-3 June (see above).
  • The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) will be held from 5–15 July 2022 on Building back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Get in touch!

Have an event, report or activity related to people-centered justice that you would like to see featured in this update? Contact: Themba.Mahleka@nyu.edu

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The Pathfinders are a group of member states, international organizations, global partnerships, and other partners working to accelerate delivery of the SDG targets for peace, justice and inclusion (SDG16+). Hosted by the NYU Center on International Cooperation (CIC).

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