In my latest column on Slaw Online I raise a global access to justice alarm. We are not moving on Sustainable Development Goal 16.3 on equal access to justice. There is a tremendous lack of data and therefore the indicators for measuring whether any movement is being made towards achieving the goal are far below par. Funding levels are low and do not in any way resemble the kind of concerted efforts that we see in areas like health and education. Innovation is minimal.
This matters for two reasons. Firstly, because the lack of effective justice services affects a lot of people, in key relationships, with severe consequences. I am talking hundreds of millions. Read the blog for the details. Secondly, because in 2015 the heads of State and governments of all the UN member states decided that there should be a Sustainable Development Goal on equal access to justice. That was a promise, a decision and a commitment made to the citizens of the world, in particular the most vulnerable. It must be honoured.
There is also good news. Last week an international Justice Task Force was set up and had its first meeting in Buenos Aires. It is part of a wider initiative called Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies. The Task Force brings together a group of governments, international organisations, and civil society organisations to making SDG16 something real and tangible.
Sierra Leone, Argentina, and The Netherlands, preside, all at ministerial level. Amongst its members are two members of the Justice Leadership Group and other, impressive leaders in the field. The group has the support of two members of The Elders, Hina Jalani and Mary Robinson. Other leading organisations include the Open Society Foundations and Namati. There is a true joining of forces. Having been present at this first meeting I have seen firsthand, that the Justice Task Force will really be able to make a difference and rally more support for SDG16.3. Concrete decisions were taken to start bringing together knowledge and strategies that will make SDG16.3 more understandable and more actionable as a problem. At HiiL, we will continue to lend our full support to its work.