The World Justice Project’s (WJP) report, “Global Insights on Access to Justice: Findings from the World Justice Project General Population Poll in 101 Countries,” is a comparative analysis of access to civil justice globally. The report was created to make information about access to civil justice more readily available, as well as put comparative data about a wide variety of civil legal needs across countries in one place. A country profile for each of the 101 countries examined is available in the full report.
The purpose of this study is to provide a framework for understanding legal needs across a diverse range of countries and to promote survey-based indicators for measuring progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16.3. With regard to the study design, the interviewers focused on 11 themes:
Types of legal problems experienced in the last two years;
- Problem seriousness;
- Sources of help and advice, both formal and informal;
- Residual problem resolving behavior, such as attempts to learn more about the legal issue;
- Reasons for advice not being obtained;
- Resolution process;
- Fact and manner of conclusion;
- Perceptions of the quality of processes and outcomes;
- Cost of resolutions;
- Legal capability; and
- Impact of experiencing a legal problem.
To best measure access to justice, WJP administered survey modules as part of its General Population Poll (GPP) of 101 countries. The GPP, which is also used for the Rule of Law Index, is a survey in which the interviewers ask the same series of questions to a group of citizens in each country to better understand how various demographics experience legal problems. The purpose of collecting answers to a uniform set of questions from a geographically diverse set of respondents was to ensure that the data sets were as comparable as possible.
Across the 101 countries examined, the study concludes generally that:
- Most people do not turn to the courts, but rather seek help from family and friends or try to negotiate directly with the other party;
- Justice problems severely impact people’s lives, with 43% of people reporting that their justice problem has adversely impacted their daily lives;
- There are a variety of obstacles to meeting a person’s justice needs, but one of the most common is recognizing when a problem has a legal remedy;
- 4 billion people have unmet civil justice needs; and
- More people-centered data is needed to increase federal and local governments’ understanding of citizens’ legal needs.
Generally, the populations that experience the most obstacles regarding access to justice are the poor, youth, women, ethnic minorities, the elderly, and migrants. The report concludes that the relationship between people’s civil legal needs and their ability to access justice directly impacts economic development, inclusive growth, health, education, and employment globally, but more ethnographic studies are needed.
NOTE: This summary is produced by the Rule of Law Collaborative, not by the original author(s).