Justice Leadership in a Pandemic

by , | Apr 29, 2020

Today Global Dashboard publishes a call to action by a group of justice leaders, former ministers, attorneys-general, and chief justices from all continents. They come together as the Justice Leadership Group, which was formed five years ago with the help of HiiL to support others who have accepted the task of serving justice in their societies or internationally at the highest political level.

The leaders recognise the growing strains on justice systems as they find themselves on the frontlines of a public health emergency, an economic crisis, and a profound social, political, and cultural dislocation.

They call for increased international co-operation between justice ministers, an “IPCC for justice,” and investment in people-centred justice. Justice systems have a vital role to play as a platform for helping societies rebound from this emergency, but they could also further fragment societies if they play a coercive and abusive role.

The leaders’ call to action draws on the work of the Task Force on Justice – convened by ministers from Argentina, Netherlands, and Sierra Leone, and by The Elders – and its report on Justice for All. It reflects a growing mobilisation across the justice community, with the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies convening partners behind an agenda for justice action during the pandemic.

A commitment to people-centred justice requires taking justice out of formal institutions and into people’s lives and communities. Grassroots justice defenders play an essential role, as do the innovators who are designing new ways to meet people’s justice needs.

But governments play an essential role and need to work together if they are to keep pace with this fast-moving emergency. Health ministers meet regularly under the auspices of the G20, while energy ministers were recently convened by the government of Denmark and IEA to put clean energy at the heart of the economic recovery.

“If there ever was a time for justice leaders to unite and to work together, it is now,” the justice leaders write. They call for a “forum for ministers of justice to share best practice and identify urgent actions to put justice at the heart of pandemic response.” This forum could meet within a matter of weeks, they say.

We support this call to action and will work with our partners to make it a reality.

Read the call to action in English

Read the call to action in Arabic (PDF)

Read the call to action in French (PDF)

Read the call to action in Spanish (PDF)

Next steps

For further information or to help take forward this this call to action, contact Sam or David.


  • Sam Muller, founding director of HiiL

  • David Steven, Senior Fellow at New York University

More from Global Dashboard

Scenarios Week on Global Dashboard

Scenarios Week on Global Dashboard

This article is part of our Scenarios Week series, exploring and expanding on the Long Crisis Scenarios. You can find the other articles in the series on our Scenarios Week page. Just over a week ago, we published our latest work as the Long Crisis Network: the...

Our COVID Future: The Long Crisis Scenarios

Our COVID Future: The Long Crisis Scenarios

Created in partnership with: COVID-19 marks a turning point in the 21st century.​ Levels of uncertainty are off the chart, making predictions impossible. ​But if we can create plausible stories about different futures, we create a...