What do people need and what do people want when they seek justice? These questions are the starting point for a new approach to justice – a people-centered approach to justice.
People-centered justice was the theme of the 2022 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Access to Justice Roundtable hosted on September 21-22 in Riga, Latvia, and attended by Laura Milne, ABA ROLI’s Country Director for Jordan. Co-hosted by the OECD and the Ministry of Justice of Latvia, the Roundtable brought together government and non-government representatives to discuss how best to advance people-centered justice through the implementation of the OECD Framework and Good Practices Principles on People-centered Justice. The Roundtable’s agenda allowed for a wide variety of speakers to share their experiences and expertise on designing and advancing people-centered justice—ranging from digital transformation in Australia to early dispute resolution intervention in Japan and legal empowerment activities in Thailand.
Over the past 60 years, rule of law programming has focused primarily on justice providers and institutions, training judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and law enforcement. This “top-down” approach to development has experienced several challenges.
National and international institutions whose mandate is to promote and protect human rights are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation and corruption. People-centered justice is an approach that demands rule of law practitioners take these impacts into account as they pause, reflect, and transform programming to put a focus on peoples’ justice needs and wants, and which prioritizes evidence, collaboration, investment, and rebuilding trust in justice institutions.