Civil Society

We measure oil barrels and corn harvests. So why not justice?

The Royal Courts of Justice are seen in London

'No country - developed or developing - is immune to abuses in the justice system.' Image: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Karen Tse
CEO and Founder, International Bridges to Justice (IBJ)
Basavanagouda Patil
Founder and Director, Access to Justice Index
Share:
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Justice and Law is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Justice and Law

Access to justice is a basic right in democratic countries. But tracking its implementation and progress is tricky. The world measures every barrel of oil produced each year and every grain of corn it harvests, but not basic legal rights like the number of people denied access to counsel or abused in detention.

This lack of a measurement is particularly problematic for the world’s poor in developing countries. When the poor are accused of a crime, they often face the justice system alone and may be subjected to years of detainment and human rights abuse while awaiting trial.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, three in four people in prison are in pre-trial detention. In India, the number is two in three people. Research by the Open Society Foundation and work in prisons by International Bridges to Justice shows that the vast majority of torture and abuse at the hands of the State takes place during this pre-trial detention phase. In the past decade, important strides have been made on this issue.

But how can we really fix this problem, if we can’t track it?

Today we can. This week marks the launch of the Access to Justice Index, a ranking of countries’ records on access to justice by the Global Initiative for Access to Justice (GIAJ), a nonprofit group based in India. The Index has been piloted in five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), which together account for three billion people. The development of the Index was supported by International Bridges to Justice (IBJ), an organization dedicated to ensuring basic legal rights of ordinary individuals worldwide.

The Access to Justice Index will publicly measure how four critical root factors contribute to accessing justice: 1) the government 2) the judiciary 3) the legal profession, and 4) legal education. The index helps evaluate a nation’s effectiveness in providing access to legal resources for citizens, including the most vulnerable members of society. It also recognizes the transformative impact of technology in improving access to justice, as it incorporates technology as a factor to measure governments’ legal infrastructure.

The Access to Justice Index
Image: Karen Tse, International Bridges to Justice

Access to justice is crucial because it has a ripple effect on a country’s prosperity, stability, and security. The index will support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16, which calls for “providing access to justice for all” and building “accountable and inclusive institutions.” All UN member countries have committed that this goal should met by 2030. No country - developed or developing - is immune to abuses in the justice system.

There has never been a better time to help people access justice. In a world riddled by conflict, religious strife, and huge flows of refugees, the need for increased justice has never been more urgent or more apparent.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Why we must listen to the unsung 'sheroes' of war

Michelle Nunn

June 28, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum