Justice Action Update — November 2022

Following the World Justice Forum, the Justice Action Coalition set out to implement the recommendations and agreed next steps that had emanated from its meetings and events held during the forum.

The Coalition promoted the
Justice Appeal 2023 at relevant international meetings and fora, including the UN’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) held in July 2022. It also set up a task team to develop proposals and support decision-making on the permanent structure of the Justice Action Coalition, to be announced at the Second SDG Summit in September 2023.

The partner organizations leading the Coalition’s Joint Deliverables met in the Hague in October 2022 to take stock of implementation and to collaborate on the achievement of the deliverables in time for the SDG Summit in 2023.

This third edition of the Justice Action Update highlights progress made and key takeaways from the Joint Deliverables meeting, reports on recent activities of the Justice Action Coalition including the work of the Young Justice Leaders and the Ibero-American Alliance for Access to Justice, places Sierra Leone in the spotlight, and much more!

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1. Joint Deliverables Meeting of the Justice Action Coalition

On October 19th, the Justice Action Coalition’s partner organizations convened in The Hague to discuss the joint deliverables of the Coalition. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pathfinders’ Justice for All program, as the secretariat of the Coalition, convened the meeting and facilitated the discussions. The venue for the meeting was generously provided by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO).

The meeting was a deep-dive working session, where partners presented progress, shared information on the data and evidence they were collecting and agreed to align their work across the different deliverables.

The meeting offered an important opportunity for partners to share their work with each other, identify opportunities for collaboration and suggest new ideas for colleagues to explore. The Key Messaging deliverable emerged as an essential deliverable due to its crosscutting nature. It became evident that agreeing on a common vision for people-centered justice is pivotal to igniting collective action ahead of the 2023 SDG Summit.

Eveline de Bruijn, (then) Coordinator, Rule of Law and Peacebuilding Unit, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs providing an update on the Justice Action Coalition during the Joint Deliverables Meeting

Please note — As a result of the October 19 Meeting, the Justice Action Coalition Joint Deliverables will be updated. While this updated version will be published soon online, please reach out to us on justice@sdg16.plus if you’d like to receive the updated version.

2. Justice Action Coalition Update

The theme for the 2022 HLPF was “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. Members of the Justice Action Coalition identified the HLPF as a key moment to profile and share the Justice Appeal 2023 with United Nations member states. This was achieved through a recorded video of a statement delivered by HEM Ikta Abdoulaye Mohamed, Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Niger. In the statement he, amongst other things, called on all those working for justice and equity, state and non-state actors, national and international operators, to join forces and strengthen the global movement for people-centered justice.

At HLPF, young people took advantage of the opportunities they had to be a part of formal and informal spaces to share their views on people-centered justice. The Young Justice Leaders participated in a side event, Rallying Children and Young People for Intergenerational Partnerships and Meaningful Participation in the 2023 SDG Summit, co-convened by Terre des hommes, The Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures at the University of Strathclyde and other partners. Vino Lucero and Gülsen Güler represented the Young Justice Leaders in this dialogue that culminated in a joint statement calling for further actions to support meaningful child & youth participation in practice.

Gülsen Güler and Vino Lucero contributing to discussion during the “Rallying Children and Young People for Intergenerational Partnerships and Meaningful Participation in the 2023 SDG Summit”

The Sixth Committee is the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly. All the United Nations Member States are entitled to representation on the Sixth Committee as one of the main committees of the General Assembly. Thirteen Justice Action Coalition countries came together to issue a Joint Statement on people-centered justice at the meeting of the 6th Committee on “The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels” during the 77th Session of the General Assembly. Costa Rica, represented by its Permanent Representative, Maritza Chan Valverde, delivered the statement on behalf of Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Japan, Liberia, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. These countries are all members states of the Justice Action Coalition.

Permanent Representative, Maritza Chan Valverde, delivering a statement at the meeting of the 6th Committee during the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly

An excerpt from the statement reads: “The Justice Action Coalition serves as a platform to encourage and support member states to collect relevant data and use it to formulate people-centered justice systems and policies. Through the use of data we can better ensure that justice support interventions match the needs and priorities of the people. Together we can identify good practices and lessons learned — and share what works, and what does not, in specific contexts. Technology, if used responsibly, also allows for pilots of new approaches and shaping justice service delivery to reach as many people as possible.”

During the Ministerial meeting of the Justice Action Coalition, held in May, it was agreed that a two-member Task Team would be created to explore the different options for establishing a permanent Justice Action Coalition structure, including a secretariat. The Task Team will coordinate and facilitate a consultative process with Justice Action Coalition members to determine the scope and objectives of a permanent structure, suggest its hosting options and make a ‘business-case’ for its establishment.

The Justice Action Coalition is pleased to announce that Senior Access to Justice and Rule of Law consultants, Maaike de Langen and Akingbolahan Adeniran have been appointed as the two person task team entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating this process.

3. Updates from affiliates of the Justice Action Coalition

The Young Justice Leaders

The Young Justice Leaders added credence to the view that young people have a lot of energy and ideas that ought to be harnessed in the quest for justice for all. Following their official launch at the World Justice Forum through an intergenerational dialogue, the Young Justice Leaders published their Work Plan for anyone interested in learning more about their work and/ or collaborating with them.

The Young Justice Leaders also launched their webpage which includes a description of who they are, what their cohort does, their focus areas and activities leading up to the SDG Summit in 2023 and other important information. If you haven’t already seen it, you are encouraged to visit this docking station of the Young Justice Leaders here.

Vino Lucero represented the Young Justice Leaders and contributed to discussions at a conference organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO), in cooperation with UN Women Regional Office for South-East Asia, and the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC) entitled, Enhancing knowledge of and engagement by human rights defenders (HRDs) with United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms (Access to Justice Project) held from 03–05 October. The workshop sought to strengthen the capacity of LGBTIQ+ HRDs to monitor, document and report on human rights violations and to increase their knowledge and capacity to engage with and bring their situations to the attention of the UN human rights mechanisms. It provided a great platform for the Young Justice Leaders to contribute to this agenda.

The Justice Action Coalition is pleased to share the announcement of one of the Young Justice Leaders, Kelechi Achinonu, as the Next Generation Fellow for Justice. Supported by the UN Foundation, the Next Generation Fellows reach out to hundreds of young people from around the world, speak with experts and leaders of all ages and come up with solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing young people and future generations. This new appointment will also serve to increase collaboration between the Young Justice Leaders and the Next Generation Fellows, including through the Unlock the Future Coalition, as young people continue to galvanize and build their movements through collaborative approaches.

The 10th annual Knowledge Platform Security Rule of Law (KPSRL) conference (#KPAC22) took place in person, in the Hague, and online under the theme “Reimagining Social Contracts”. With support from Pathfinders, the Young Justice Leaders co-hosted a session wherein Agnes Cynthia Amoding, Gülsen Güler, and former Attorney-General and Minister for Legal Affairs of The Bahamas, Allyson Maynard-Gibson KC of the Justice Leaders had an intergenerational dialogue moderated by UN Foundation Senior Fellow, David Steven.

The session highlighted that there are three primary routes through which people-centered justice impacts the social contract — if a society is fair; if there are ways for people to resolve their grievances; and if there are platforms, which help people resolve disputes/ everyday justice problems. And, the downside is that injustice and failures of the justice system can be key drivers of social breakdown, protest and conflict. Some of the solutions proffered by the speakers and the participants were to increase the ability of people/ communities to use the justice system effectively to resolve their problems and to increase the preventive role justice systems play. This has to be done at scale: if justice is the society’s ‘immune system’, its impact cannot be piecemeal.

The Ibero-American Alliance for Access to Justice

Following its official launch at the World Justice Forum, the Ibero-American Alliance for Access to Justice launched its official webpage which contains details about its work, membership and events in three languages: Spanish, Portuguese, and English.

The 29th Ordinary General Assembly of the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors (AIAMP) took place in Colombia, in July. The Ibero-American Alliance for Access to Justice took part in this meeting and presented the Alliance with the view of strengthening cooperation and outlining future opportunities for working with AIAMP.

NYU CIC Senior Fellow, María Fernanda Rodríguez, making presentations on behalf of the Ibero-American Alliance for Access to Justice at the 29th Ordinary General Assembly of the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors (AIAMP).

NYU Center on International Cooperation Senior Fellow, María Fernanda Rodríguez traveled to the Dominic Republic on behalf of the Ibero-American Alliance for Access to Justice to attend the Open Americas Conference in September. At this meeting, participants exchanged important ideas on innovation in the justice sector — a critical element to ensuring governments can deliver sustainable, resilient, people-centered policies. María Fernanda Rodríguez also participated in a panel discussion on regional innovations in justice and the use and openness of data for promoting inclusive justice systems.

4. Country in the spotlight: Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has a long-standing commitment to promoting people-centered justice. It was one of the Co-Chairs of the Task for on Justice and played a significant role in ensuring the production of the Justice for All Report in 2019. Thereafter, Sierra Leone became one of the founding members of the Justice Action Coalition with its contribution and endorsement of the Joint Letter to the UN Secretary-General.

However, it is the recent enactment of new legislation designed to safeguard people’s land rights, that places this Justice Action Coalition member state in this edition’s ‘spotlight’. In August, Sierra Leone enacted two pieces of legislation, the Customary Land Rights Act and the National Land Commission Act, to protect rural landowners and women in particular.

According to Namati, The Customary Land Rights and National Land Commission Acts will, among other things:

  • Grant all local communities the right to Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) over all industrial projects on their lands;
  • Ban industrial development, including mining, timber, and agribusiness, in old-growth forests and other ecologically sensitive areas;
  • Incorporate public environmental license conditions into binding legal agreements between communities and companies; and
  • Establish local land use committees to make decisions about how community lands are managed, and mandate that those committees are at least 30% women.

The Coordinator of the Justice Sector Coordination Office within the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone, Shahid Korjie, had the following to say about the new laws; “These new laws are historic in that they eliminate discrimination in the ownership and control of land and give rights to every Sierra Leonean to own land anywhere in the country. I’m particularly delighted that these new laws not only give communities the voice to determine how their land is to be managed, but they also give women the ability to actively participate in the entire process. These laws represent a series of progressive legislation that has recently been passed by Parliament.”

These welcome developments deservedly place Sierra Leone in the ‘spotlight’. Land is an important justice and developmental challenge that need to be addressed. According to the Justice for All report, land is one of the six areas that accounts for the most justice problems. Conversely, the report also emphasizes that programs that clarify and strengthen land rights prevent conflict and increase people’s ability to participate in the economy thereby having dual benefits.

The Justice for All report speaks at length about the importance of land rights stating that strengthening and clarifying land rights is vital for preventing conflict, but it also unlocks people’s economic potential. Land titling gives people security in their homes or in their place of work, and it helps them to raise loans and to establish or grow businesses. A large body of research has demonstrated the positive impacts of strengthened property rights on economic growth. Innovative methods, such as the use of mobile and GPS technologies to map boundaries and agree ownership with communities, are rapidly reducing the costs of recording land rights.

5. Opinions, blogs and other news

  • HEM Ikta Abdoulaye Mohamed, Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Niger delivered a video statement reiterating the Justice Appeal on behalf of the Justice Action Coalition.
  • Vino Lucero wrote a blog, #WJF2022 Dispatch from a Young Asian Justice Leader outlining his experiences at the World Justice Forum, on behalf of the Young Justice Leaders.
  • The Justice Action Coalition published the Justice Appeal in Portuguese and in Spanish to broaden the scope of the appeal including countries in the Ibero American region.
  • ODI produced, with the Pathfinders, a policy brief in the form of a Justice Aid Update and the Lessons from the Latest Evaluations of Donor Programming and another policy brief that looks at how to advance SDG 16.3.2 by investing in prison paralegals to cut the number of unsentenced detainees in low-income countries.
  • The Young Justice Leaders published their Work Plan for ease of reference for all those that want to learn more, or collaborate with them.
  • Nate Edwards authored a policy brief on behalf of NYU’s Center on International Cooperation which looks closely at Colombia’s Support for Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees including the need for more international support for President Petro’s reaffirmed commitment to integration.
  • The Justice for Children working group which is supported by Pathfinders and works closely with the Justice Action Coaliiton produced an Agenda for Action for Justice for Children.
  • Namati released a video entitled, Bending the Arc Toward Social & Environmental Justice.

6. Latest reports on people-centered justice

  • HiiL published a trend report entitled Delivering Justice, Rigorously. SDG 16.3 Trend Report — A guide to people-centred justice programming.
  • HiiL released a (French and English) Justice Needs and Satisfaction in Burkina Faso survey which shows an urgent demand for more responsiveness to the justice needs of people and businesses.
  • HiiL produced a strategy document for Justice Transformation in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Following Justice Transformation Labs (JTL) in Imo and Ogun states, respectively, HiiL launched a JTL in Kaduna, Nigeria, a state nicknamed the ‘Centre of Learning’.
  • WJP released the 2022 WJP Rule of Law Index®. This evaluation of 140 countries and jurisdictions around the world indicates that the global rule of law recession continues. For a fifth year in a row, the rule of law has declined in most countries.
  • IDLO released a policy brief entitled, Climate Justice for Women and Girls: A Rule of Law Approach to Feminist Climate Action. Amongst other things, the policy paper issues a call to action in the form of recommendations for policymakers and practitioners.
  • IDLO released an issue brief entitled, Rule of Law Responses to Climate Insecurity. Drawing on case studies in Burundi, Indonesia, Rwanda, and Somalia, the issue brief identifies three broad rule of law responses to climate insecurity.

Get in touch!

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

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