Communities around the world are reeling from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to contain it. Now more than ever, the ability to know, use, and shape the law is critical. Access to health care and various forms of relief hinge on the ability to know one’s rights and navigate complex systems. As emergency actions escalate, citizens must ensure that governments do not use the pandemic as an excuse to entrench unjust or discriminatory policies.
By addressing these needs and more, grassroots justice defenders play an essential role in responding to the pandemic. But adapting to the evolving public health emergency—particularly while under quarantine conditions—poses a monumental challenge. Most legal empowerment groups are severely under-resourced and under threat.
We’ve partnered with the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies to produce a new brief for the Justice For All campaign that aims to address these barriers. “Grassroots Justice in a Pandemic: Ensuring a Just Response and Recovery” provides recommendations for policymakers, donors, and multilateral institutions on how to finance and protect grassroots justice defenders during and after the pandemic. Doing so will help the world to mount a just and equitable response to, and recovery from, the global crisis.
In the coming weeks, we will strengthen these recommendations with concrete examples submitted by members of the Legal Empowerment Network through the COVID-19 Justice Challenge. This will help us to seek support that truly reflects the needs of grassroots justice groups around the world.