HiiL Highlights April 2016

HiiL Highlights April 2016

Livelihood and Justice: The Bottom-up View

HiiL’s Measuring Justice team has recently launched two new data reports about the justice needs and satisfaction of the people in Ukraine and Uganda. Comparing legal phenomena between countries with dissimilar legal origins, legal cultures and frameworks is risky and more often than not leads to dubious conclusions. Therefore I am not going to compare the results from the two countries directly. What I want to discuss is the structure of the most prevalent justice needs - problems that occur in people's lives and (potentially) can be resolved with legal means. In a nutshell, we found that consumer problems, employment disputes and grievances around social welfare are the most frequently occurring justice needs in Ukraine. Our study in Uganda using identical methodology yields somewhat different results. Land disputes, family conflicts and crimes are the most prevalent legal problems in the lives of the Ugandan people.

At face value there is a marked difference between the types of legal problems that the people in Ukraine and Uganda encounter. However, a deeper inquiry reveals interesting parallels. Land and employment disputes are in fact justice needs around protection and security of people’s livelihoods. Individuals and communities need the law to protect their most important asset - the ability to work and sustain their families. Employment disputes impact many Ukrainians. Employment is key part of the concept of human development and one of the most important human rights. In Uganda an estimated 75% of the economically active population relies on subsistence farming. For them land disputes have similar meaning and impact. Employment disputes in industrialized societies and conflicts over land in the developing world have common socio-economic core – stable and secure livelihoods.

Legal protection of the ability to profit from own work is of utmost importance for the legal empowerment of billions of people across the world. In the two reports we discuss in detail to what extent the available justice journeys are accessible and fair. The graph above shows how the people in Uganda and Ukraine perceive the formal and informal processes for resolving disputes around livelihood. Clearly, improvements are possible and very much needed in both countries. We believe that justice innovation, targeted legal information, accessible hybrid legal services and support from technologies have huge potential to deliver more access to justice when the people need protection of their livelihood.

Read the April 2016 HiiL Highlights