A decade ago, people seeking justice for their communities lacked a space for connecting and collaborating with each other. Our Network has since built a thriving community of justice defenders worldwide, raising the global profile of legal empowerment and securing critical resources for our field.
More than 5,000 network members have participated in our peer-to-peer learning opportunities, gaining the skills and confidence necessary to test new ideas and expand existing efforts. Some transformed their work to be more community-led, while others improved their effectiveness and sustainability. Overall, hundreds of civil society organizations have significantly deepened their impact as a result of learning through the Network.
Network members also worked together to achieve collective wins. We rallied around the inclusion of access to justice as a goal within the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. We persuaded governments to prioritize justice needs in their development planning. We supported the creation of new financing mechanisms for legal empowerment efforts worldwide. In 2021, after years of advocacy by Network members, the Legal Empowerment Fund was launched with the mandate to distribute $100 million over 10 years.
This is just the beginning. We have ambitious plans for the future. By uniting across borders, we will continue to untap the collective potential of grassroots justice defenders around the globe. Together, we will achieve lasting and positive change, in our communities and across the world.
When the United Nations launched the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, it left out justice altogether. As world leaders began to discuss a new set of goals, hundreds of Grassroots Justice Network members argued that justice is critical to sustainable development. Our collective advocacy was instrumental in securing the inclusion of access to justice – what is known as Goal 16 – in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On the heels of that win, the Network launched the Justice For All (JFA) campaign to turn the groundbreaking commitment into results.
Justice For All
The Justice for All campaign, launched by the Grassroots Justice Network, advocated for financing and stronger protections for grassroots justice defenders. Over 8,000 people and 180 organizations took part in the campaign. By 2020, the campaign secured laws and policy commitments in 14 countries that recognize or fund grassroots justice defenders.
Legal Empowerment Fund
In response to our collective action through the Justice for All campaign, the first ever multi-million dollar, multi-donor fund for legal empowerment was launched in 2021. The Legal Empowerment Fund (LEF), now led by the Fund for Global Human Rights, provides core funding to grassroots activists and organizations worldwide.
When the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the Network quickly created regional support groups and a dedicated online space for justice defenders. Hundreds of members took to these platforms to discuss their experiences with adapting legal empowerment methods, tracking and responding to human rights violations arising from the crisis, and accessing financial support and other resources. Understanding the urgent need for financial support, the Network organized a partnership that launched the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund, which mobilized and deployed one million dollars in rapid-response grants to 60 member organizations from over 30 countries We published a policy brief to educate policy makers, donors, and multilateral institutions on how to fund and protect grassroots justice defenders during and after the pandemic.
Over 5,000 members have participated in our in-person and virtual learning events. Participants came away with new ideas. They expanded their programs, made their work more effective, and launched new initiatives.