Flagship Report

Open Justice

What this is about:

On Monday 24 September 2018 the OGP Support held a public consultation session on how we should approach the State of Open Government Report. (For more background and justification, please see here.) For this session, we wanted to find out what the relatively new open justice policy might accomplish within the framework of OGP. We presented our preliminary ideas on how we would deal with this and asked for feedback on the best way to frame this topic, what is missing, and if there are other stakeholders we should talk to.

This page exists for two reasons. First, it is feedback to those of you who called in, who have written and who sent us resources. Second, it is another opportunity for discussion. is to provide a public space for written feedback for those of you who couldn’t attend the consultation or who would like to make your points in writing.  You can provide comments on the original framing, on the data being used for benchmarking and can suggest case studies to be featured.

What we heard from you:

  • Data:
    • Strategic value: OGP might play an important role in “joining the chorus” of folks saying we need better data, With regard to SDG 16, people are beginning to sense that we can actually measure some of these issues. But there is a consensus view that the indicators (on pre-trial detention) that were accepted for 16.3 in particular were too narrow.
    • International Opportunities: Participants validated the use of "Civil justice needs surveys" and that greater attention from OGP could help to make sure that this moves forward more consistently. As a potential entry point, they noted that the Inter-Agency Expert Group for the Sustainable Development Goals issued an interim document maybe in 2016 or 2017 that acknowledges that there could be more indicators including opportunities to measure civil justice.
    • People-centered: More broadly, it seemed that there was consensus around “people-centered” or “user-centered” data. This is different from a “institution-centered” approach to justice which looks at the functions of institutions. This is important because people take multiple pathways to get necessary services.
    • Administrative data: In addition to the needs-surveys mentioned in our documents, participants suggested that there could be additional data provided through national administrative data.
    • Data synthesis: This would allow a of legal needs there is out there for different groups of people, including marginalized communities, but then also to see how to best match the different services, both legal and justice services, to actually meet those needs. This is something of a “justice as service delivery approach.”
  • Framing:
    • Our approach would be to synthesize the different approaches to justice being taken within OGP (which are complementary and overlapping, but not identical). That is, open judiciaries, legal empowerment and access to justice. (See here for a potted summary.)
    • One caller suggested that a narrative could tie together an open approach by looking at information about resources, institutions, and rights.
    • World Justice Project is approaching these issues from a broader rights and rule of law approach. This approach is instrumental to tackling other issues like service delivery, anti-corruption, and access to information.
    • We might also try to avoid falling into the trap of dividing between civil and criminal law, where needs are not necessarily bifurcated. This is especially important if we are looking at violence against women, for example where this is a cross-cutting issue.
  • Policy goals:
    • Participants articulated that while there are many exciting agendas within OGP (and beyond) on justice, the issue is therefore one of prioritization. These include:
      • Getting OGP countries to increase domestic financial commitments to justice initiatives;
      • Getting OGP countries to contribute more international pool of funding in order to support Access to Justice initiatives. There's significant evidence of the need to increase resources.
      • A core part of the work beyond data would be to facilitate exchange of best practices, which, a participant noted, is the way that justice proceeds, anyway within and between countries. This is not only about volume of financing, but also cost-effectiveness, which OECD is working on.
      • Another element might several advocacy groups that are working on is enabling environment for the role of paralegals and civil society to do their job and build legal empowerment culture.
  • More potential case studies
    • Opening justice in Argentina - Argentina as Global Leader on ATJ: In November 2016, Government of Argentina hosted the Second International Criminal Legal Aid Conference that was borne out of work at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. 
    • UNODC prepared a document on criminal access to justice reform here: https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/LegalAid/E_CN15_2017_CRP2_e_V1703525.pdf
    • Paralegals in South Africa
    • Liberia and jury training
    • Sierra Leone and legal empowerment
    • United States and civil justice resource identification. https://www.justice.gov/atj/access-justice-international-forums
    • Canada is doing work around community legal offices in remote areas. Similar work has been done in South Africa and Ukraine
    • Mexico’s commitments on criminal justice have been ambitious. WJP has a Mexican team in the field now doing some work on evaluating some of those reforms and seeing how they're impacting some of the users of the justice system there. This set of activities and commitments addresses detention, missing person, judicial absenteeism, and judicial retention.

How we plan in address/incorporate this feedback:

  • We need to talk more on the data about matching needs with other elements of user experience and for performance.
  • Expand our framing with a fourth bullet which talks about not just the enabling legal environment but also the enabling financial environment.
  • Add new case studies and then I'll be looking for feedback from you in particular but also introductions or recommendations on next people that we should be talking to in the coming months. But otherwise I'm going to close this session.

Where to next?

  • Next, we will update our approach and framing. (What’s currently in the “Thematic Strawmen” document listed above.)
  • We welcome your feedback below (in the public comment box) or to our email at research@opengovpartnership.org. We are going to close comments on Wednesday, 31 October. If you would like to talk to us again, please reach out (at the same email) to schedule a phone call.
  • For some areas that we still need research, we are going to commission research by partners to help inform the final report.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the consultations during the live sessions and in writing!