Justice for All

Task Force on Justice – Is Its Report Useful for Practitioners?

Editors’ Note:  Since this post was first drafted, justice issues have been considered at meetings held at the UN General Assembly on September 24-25.  We’ll get you an update on those meetings as soon as we can.  We would like to hear from you if you were at the meetings.  Please reply/comment or contact us if you would like to do a Featured Post on the meetings.

The Task Force on Justice brought together an impressive alliance of institutions, NGOs and individuals. Will it’s report help practitioners in the field?

The Justice for All Report

In launching its “Justice for All” report on April 29, the alliance took direct aim at the ‘justice gap’. They tell us how many are without justice and where they are. They identify principal problem areas – lack of legal identity stands out – how much it might cost to fix them and how much it will cost to leave them unfixed. It’s a call to arms. So far so good. Valuable ammunition in making the case to governments who need to act and to those who might support them.

Is it helpful to a practitioner? I’m not so sure. The focus on legal empowerment must be right. We’ve all spent too much time on ‘capacity building’, trying to strengthen institutions that are powerless or failed, without any noticeable effect. Focusing on measures that strengthen people’s capacity to demand their rights makes sense.

But what to do where there is no right? Or where a right exists only on paper – a right without a remedy? Or where public policy simply fails to recognize an interest and is under no legal obligation to do so?

I’m old enough to remember Law and Development, Law and Economics, Access to Justice…and now the ‘Justice Gap Analysis’. But as helpful as this may be to policy makers, what will it mean to justice seekers on the ground?

Leave a Reply