Extending Access to Justice for Migrants in the Global South

  • 2023•03•18

    A new UNU-CPR discussion paper explores how ‘access to justice’ can be extended to migrants in the Global South – a concept recognized by the United Nations as integral to delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, inclusive growth, and the commitment to leaving no one behind.

    Around the world there remains a widespread ’global justice gap’ – approximately two-thirds of the world’s population lack meaningful access to justice – and the problem is particularly acute for migrants, many of whom face economic, social, cultural, linguistic, structural, institutional, and at times, legal barriers, to accessing justice.

    Regardless of their nationality or reasons for moving, migrants enjoy the same fundamental human rights as all human beings under international human rights law. For some of those who decide to cross an international border, migration is a positive and empowering experience. Yet for many others, the lack of rights-based systems of migration governance – or the inability to access such systems where they exist – is creating a human rights crisis at borders and in countries of origin and destination.

    The paper, entitled ‘Shrinking the Justice Gap: Rethinking Access to Justice for Migrants in the Global South,’ emphasizes the importance of approaching access to justice as part and parcel of a broader agenda for social justice. It explores the kinds of injustices migrants face in their everyday lives, considers whether these injustices can be attributed to specific relations and actors or to structural forms of oppression and inequality, and builds on existing research to outline how the global justice gap can be addressed for migrants (and other marginalized groups).

    The paper proposes an approach that involves migration research and policy interventions that centre migrant perspectives and experiences; an acknowledgment of forms of justice that lie beyond formal legal and judicial state structures; efforts that address related structural inequalities; and initiatives that build solidarity among migrants and citizens, paying attention to similarities in their justice and access to justice experiences.

    The evidence and examples provided are drawn primarily from the six South-South migration corridors that are the focus of research being undertaken by the Migration for Development and Equality (MIDEQ) Hub: Burkina Faso-Côte d’Ivoire, China-Ghana, Egypt-Jordan, Ethiopia-South Africa, Haiti-Brazil, and Nepal-Malaysia.

    Read ‘Shrinking the Justice Gap: Rethinking Access to Justice for Migrants in the Global South’ here.