Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.3 commits UN Member States to achieving equal access to justice for all by 2030. While the international justice community is stepping up its efforts to meet that target, its orthodox, state-centric approach to expanding access to justice fails to grapple with everyday justice providers outside of formal systems that justice seekers across the globe turn to in their pursuit of justice. As a result, crucial pathways to justice are effectively shut off, hindering progress to meet SDG 16.3.
This policy paper aims to refocus SDG 16.3 debates towards recognition of more diverse pathways to justice that reflect the ways in which people in a variety of contexts pursue redress and resolution of disputes. The authors set out the case for why engagement with everyday justice providers is critical to achieving SDG 16.3, outlining the need for realism about the relative strengths and weaknesses of justice providers and exploring the political, economic and social dynamics that shape justice pathways. The paper suggests methods for recognizing the roles and value of everyday justice providers, identifying entry points to engage and support them, before recommending how – or whether – international actors should engage them.