- Access to justice is associated with economic growth and social development and its provision is a core state function. But billions of people have limited access to justice. Donor support for justice systems is low in most countries and has fallen by 40% globally in the last four years. Thinking on long-term scaled-up funding for accessible justice is in its infancy.
- The principles and approaches underlying global funds in other areas provide useful lessons for how to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.3’s commitment to equal access to justice for all, including strengthening international commitment; stronger focus on learning and innovation; more effective collective donor effort and management of risk; deeper engagement with national government systems and strategies to scale up sustainable approaches; and creating new funding and partnerships.
- It is too early to assess whether a large-scale global fund would be appropriate or feasible to support access to justice for all, given the challenges and political nature of the justice system. More work needs to be done first, including to establish precise funding needs.
- In the meantime, there is a case for developing a small-scale pilot pooled donor fund focused on a specific SDG 16.3 indicator, available on a demand-driven basis to a limited number of countries. This would enable cross-country learning. It would also provide insights into the functioning of the system as a whole; global fund experience is that an initial focus on a specific ‘vertical’ issue over time turns into broader engagement.
- There is also a case for undertaking exploratory consultations on how to achieve significant donor reengagement in low-income countries.
In other areas, including agriculture, health, climate change and education, global funds focused on specific problems have become a key part of international aid architecture. Global fund performance has varied, but the best ones, particularly those relating to health, have been successful in improving both the quality and quantity of aid: building multi-stakeholder partnerships, marshalling resources, enhancing the long-term visibility of resource flows, generating innovative approaches and delivering results. The paper begins with a brief overview in section 2 of why access to justice matters and the challenges of providing it, including funding gaps. Section 3 briefly summarises donor engagement with justice to date, and section 4 looks at current promising international initiatives to engage with SDG 16.3. Section 5 provides an introduction to global funds and then section 6 examines their common characteristics and explores how applicable these might be to the challenges of providing access to justice. Section 7 sets out three options for donor re-engagement. Section 8 sets out three key conclusions and possible next steps, namely: 1) it is premature to try and assess whether a large-scale global justice fund would be appropriate, as much more work needs to be done including on establishing funding gaps; 2) SDG 16.3’s two indicators for the first time provide an internationally agreed framework around two specific results for donor and partner countries to improve access to justice globally and there is a case for a small scale pilot fund focused on one or both of these indicators; and 3) there is a case for exploratory consultations on how to achieve significant donor re-engagement in low-income countries where financing challenges are likely to be the greatest.
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