Access to justice on the post-2015 agenda

Economic, social and cultural rightsHuman rights defendersNewsOthers

Brussels/New York, 19 December 2013 – Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), along with fellow human rights organisations all over the world, has called for the post-2015 development agenda to be embedded with a human rights framework to ensure both sustainability and justice. Especially important for ASF is the emphasis on the role of access to justice as a human right that guarantees all other human rights.

ASF is one of over 300 non-governmental and civil society organisations who signed the “Human Rights for All Post-2015” statement. This statement was presented at the United Nations General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals in New York last week.

Established in 2000 by the international community, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) included goals such as the eradication of extreme poverty and the promotion of empowering women, to be achieved by 2015. “With this deadline fast approach, it is clear that the goals will not be reached. This is largely due to the lack of emphasis on reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society”, explains ASF Executive Director Francesca Boniotti.

People living in poverty are less able to access justice than others. For instance, these people are at greater risk of being put in illegal pre-trial detention without access to a lawyer, adequate food, water or sanitation facilities. It puts their families at risk of losing their jobs or their ability to send children to school.

Without access to justice, people are also less able to use their freedoms of speech and press to protest non-transparent and corrupt systems that divert resources from funding public services, hampering people’s ability to realise their rights to health and education.

“Development can only be possible when people have greater control over their own lives and can make decisions to realise their human rights and better their situation according to their own priorities”, finds Boniotti. “Access to justice is needed for those to be able to protect and defend those rights, and play an active role in their communities”.

For ASF, it is essential that the post-2015 framework recognises the centrality of access to justice for guaranteeing accountability for all other rights and goals. Only then can the development agenda be sure that it empowers people, enabling them to reach their full potential in a structure that promotes democracy, the rule of law and sustainable peace.

To read the “Human Rights for All Post-2015” statement.

To read the ASF note on “How access to justice can help reduce poverty” (May 2013).

To watch ASF short video “Making justice accessible improves people’s lives”.

Cover picture: © ASF/I. Van Gisbergen