National Center for Access to Justice

US Govt Takes Step Toward Collecting More Data to Measure Access to Justice

An Oct. 2, 2015 letter to the NYT by David Udell, National Center for Access to Justice, and Risa Kaufman, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, explains that new United Nations Global Goal 16 — the “access to justice goal” — applies to every nation, including the United States.

The NYT letter notes that the Obama Administration has issued a Presidential Memorandum beginning the process of implementing Goal 16 in the US by placing responsibility for implementation with the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR), a multi-agency initiative within the federal government. The Presidential Memo provides for the Office on Access to Justice of the US Department of Justice to guide and support LAIR, including its annual reporting to the President “on its success in achieving its mission, consistent with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Goal 16’s promise of establishing data and indicators has the potential to draw increased resources, public and private, into a broad range of initiatives intended to increase access to justice, including research, policy advocacy, and the provision of direct legal services. For more information on Goal 16 in the US, see this videotape of an event at Skadden Arps law firm co-sponsored by NCAJ and CLS HRI on September 24, 2015. Risa Kaufman of CLS HRI moderated the panel, with presentations by officials from the US Dept of Justice, US Dept of State, Open Society Justice Institute, the International Legal Foundation and David Udell, executive director of NCAJ. See also NCAJ’s previous blog post with CLS HRI on implementing Goal 16 in the US.

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