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The Benefits of Access to Justice for Economies, Societies, and the Social Contract: A Literature Review

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This paper is part of the background research for the Skeptic’s Guide to Open Government (2022 Edition). Mark Weston developed it with guidance from Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies.

Access to justice” has traditionally been defined as access to the formal justice system in the shape of lawyers, courts, and the police. In recent years, however, the work of groups such as the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies; the Task Force on Justice; the Open Government Partnership (OGP); and others has helped broaden this definition.“Access to justice,” as a recent letter from the justice ministers of 16 countries to the United Nations Secretary-General put it, “is best understood as the ability of people to resolve and prevent their justice problems, and to use justice as a platform to participate in their economies and societies.”

This literature review of the benefits of access to justice is the result of a collaboration between the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies and OGP. Aimed at high-level government officials and leaders of civil society organisations working in the justice field, it forms part of the background research for OGP’s second Skeptic’s Guide to Open Government. The review adopts a broad view of access to justice, assessing the impacts of improved and expanded provision of justice services—both formal and informal—on economies, societies, and the social contract.

Read the full paper below.


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