by Peter Chapman, Independent Expert on Justice and Governance, Non-Resident Fellow at the NYU Center on International Cooperation

"Access to Justice and COVID-19

In countries around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is upending everyday life and livelihoods. Catalyzed by the pandemic, legal needs are spiraling — from expanding risk of eviction and challenges securing social protection payments to increasing COVID-19 mortality due to air pollution and evidence connecting COVID-19 induced states of emergency with the seizure of community lands. Needs are also rapidly changing in nature for all areas where people face the more common justice problems.

Back in March 2020, as COVID-19 crept around the world, the United Nations Statistical Commission held its annual meeting in New York. In effort to be able to measure progress on the promise of SDG16 to strengthen equal access to justice for all, the Commission discussed strategies to improve civil justice data. It made important progress when it established a new global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator (16.3.3) to track progress towards access to civil justice. It also endorsed the Praia City Group Handbook on Governance Statistics which includes guidance for strengthening access to justice data."

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