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People-centred justice for all: a route to scaling up access to justice advice and assistance in low-income countries

Research report

Written by Marcus Manuel, Clare Manuel

Research report

Access to justice is a core state function. Yet billions of people continue to lack access to justice. This has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This paper focuses on low-income countries – where the financing issues are most pressing and the need for scaling up access to people-centred justice most pressing. There are potentially high rates of return for targeted investments, especially in front-line providers of justice advice and assistance at the community level, often delivered by paralegals. Such investments are also low cost when done at scale – just 40 cents per person a year.

Donor support for justice has been limited and poorly targeted, resulting in unaffordable unit costs. Yet Sierra Leone’s new Legal Aid Board shows that where funding is provided, cost-effective scaling up is possible.

The paper concludes by reviewing the lessons from other sectors on the case for a targeted results-focused global fund. Better coordination and targeting of existing aid could enable community-based advice and assistance to be accessible for everyone in low-income countries.