‘The Innovating Justice Forum was part of the ‘biggest mobilisation in justice for a decade’ – Wim Jansen of the City of the Hague
On 5 February 2019, the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law, organised the first day of the Innovating Justice Forum. Nearly 200 professionals from the humanitarian and justice sector across the globe came to the Humanity Hub in The Hague to share their expertise with innovation, learn from each other’s experiences and network. Innovators, investors, leaders in the political and justice sector and researchers united to be part of a real transition that produces user-friendly justice at scale.
The Need for Justice Innovation is Real
Every year, 1 billion people worldwide struggle to find fair solutions for their legal problems. 70% of these problems are not resolved and 30% of people don’t even undertake action. People cannot afford legal aid, are not aware of their rights or do not have faith in the justice system. Courts are overburdened, procedures are expensive and take too long. Unresolved justice problems have a strong negative impact on people’s lives. To change this, innovation is needed. The challenge is to make scalable innovation happen. Bold conversations are needed. Disruption is inevitable. Innovators need a level playing field. Justice systems need to open up.
Transformation is needed in the Netherlands as well. Research shows that every year, thousands of Dutch citizens suffer from unresolved justice problems. In a city such as The Hague, with 800 000 inhabitants, this means roughly 10 000 people face neighbor disputes, 5000 people experience family justice problems and 20 000 people have a legal dispute with their employer. Approximately 50% of these justice problems are not resolved.
HiiL’s mission is clear: by 2030, 150 million people will be able to prevent or resolve their most pressing justice problems. What do we need to achieve this? First, lots of innovation. Existing models of service-provision are not delivering enough justice, and they often exclude enormous ‘markets’ of clients needing legal services. Second, scalable solutions are needed. Justice is a social good – all citizens need to be reached. Without both, we will never meet the targets for Sustainable Development Goal 16.3: equal access to justice for all.
City of International Peace and Justice
In order for justice innovation to take hold, we need to support startups to experiment, develop their business and scale to have maximum impact. With initiatives like HiiL and Impact City, The Hague is the city for entrepreneurs who want to build a better world. Impact City The Hague helps startups with a social mission to grow, provides access to an extensive network of businesses and stimulates private-public partnerships to address humanitarian challenges. As the city of International Peace and Justice, The Hague is the perfect location to host and support the Innovating Justice Forum. Every year, HiiL scouts and selects the most promising justice innovations from around the world. A selection of these innovations are invited to compete in Regional Finals, held in seven locations worldwide in 2018, including at Impact Startup Fest The Hague on 2 October 2018. 22 innovations were selected to join HiiL’s Justice Accelerator programme in 2018 of which 12 were invited to pitch their solution for an urgent access to justice issue at the 9th Innovating Justice Forum.
From Justice Innovation to Scale
How can we scale innovation, collect enough data, bring together enough funding and create sufficient political will to truly make a change? What can we learn from other sectors where innovation has worked? On the 5th of February, organisations such as Namati, IDLO, UNDP, World Justice Project, Terre des Hommes, Humanity X and Open Society Foundation hosted interactive working sessions where they shared their knowledge on justice innovation with the aim of answering these questions. We looked into issues such as: responsible innovation, strengthening public and private financing, the use of community paralegals to deliver justice, achieving a culture change in court systems and the role of women in justice innovation.
Wim Jansen, Head of the Department for International Affairs of the City of The Hague, opened the event and emphasized the importance of the city of the Hague as a meeting place for humanitarian organisations.
Namati CEO Vivek Maru explained how community paralegals in Indonesia and the Philippines help to narrow the power imbalance, emphasizing the need for more justice service providers to help people: “in health care, for example, nobody would tell you there are only doctors to help. There is a vertical network of nurses and others. We need a similar network for justice”. UNDP’s Christi Sletten stressed the need for tailoring solutions to the local context. According to IDLO’s Rea Abada Chiongson, “ moving women from victims of injustice to survivors and agents of change must be central and essential to any justice innovation”.
The first day of the Forum was closed by a panel discussion on justice needs of ordinary people in which Alderman Saskia Bruines of the City of The Hague also participated. Gustavo Maurino from the Ministry of Justice of Argentina said that “unless we develop an ecosystem approach we will fall short of addressing justice needs”. Saskia Bruines discussed how the City Of The Hague is working to broaden access to justice both in the Netherlands community and internationally.
We closed the first day of the Innovating Justice Forum with a powerful message from HiiL CEO, Dr. Sam Muller: ”People-centered evidence-based justice is possible”.