Universal access to basic justice: costing Sustainable Development Goal 16.3

Working and discussion papers
April 2019
Marcus Manuel, Clare Manuel and Harsh Desai

This paper aims to contribute to ongoing discussions about a realistic approach to delivering scaled-up equal justice for all in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.3, and to support work on identifying what is needed to address the gap for the billions of people worldwide who are excluded from accessing justice and the rule of law. The paper estimates the costs of providing universal basic justice to address people’s everyday justice needs, considers its affordability, and finally proposes a viable funding option.

If SDG16.3 is to be achieved, the justice sector needs urgently to catch up with other service delivery sectors such as health and education in terms of ambition, scale and financing. As a first step, a global justice financing commission should be tasked with generating more robust cost estimates for the provision of universal basic justice in order fully to understand financing needs. Learning from other sectors, a global justice challenge fund should be piloted in a few low-income countries in an effort to mobilise scaled-up resources and address the funding gap.