GENEVA (August 7, 2023) – The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all is the foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world.  This is the promise set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yet at least 253 million people live in extreme situations of injustice and 4.5 billion people are excluded from the opportunities the law provides.  One billion women lack protection from sexual violence by an intimate partner.

Moreover, like so many of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 16’s call to provide access to justice for all is off track.  In spite of many advances, we have not achieved justice that is accessible and available to all.  Many rule of law and justice institutions face a crisis of capacity as well as a crisis of public trust.

“Moving forward, it is important to centre justice on people and their rights, understanding their justice needs and responding accordingly.  This means involving people in justice decisions and providing them with the means to do so,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker the High Commissioner said on 4 August at a briefing held in Geneva on the Secretary General’s new Vision for the Rule of Law.

“There is real urgency in doing so.  Scandals related to online surveillance on a massive scale and the uncertainties around artificial intelligence highlight the need for digital justice.  The multiple crises facing the planet have encouraged the use of laws and litigation to pursue polluters – yet more is needed to achieve climate justice for all.  Recent tragedies in the field of law enforcement have focused attention on the imperative to resolve racial injustice, including long-standing racial discrimination,” Türk said.

The commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives States an impetus to take steps to reinvigorate access to justice at the national level and to finance and support SDG 16 globally.

UN Human Rights is spotlighting Justice in August as part of its monthly spotlights for the 75th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.