Organisation Internationale de Droit du Développement

Promoting access to justice and the SDGs in the ASEAN region

“The ASEAN region, with its strong array of justice and development partners, provides an excellent platform to blossom both the letter and the spirit of [the] global goals,” said Dr. Faustina Pereira, IDLO’s Director of Global Initiatives at the opening of the ASEAN Regional Consultation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Access to Justice and Legal Aid, held on May 26-27 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The event, held at the initiative of the Indonesian government and co-organized by IDLO, convened over 100 participants including government officials and civil society members from ASEAN countries, representatives from ASEAN bodies, academics and international experts on measuring access to justice and legal aid.

The meeting provided a platform for regional participants to gather best practices on providing legal aid for poor and vulnerable people, strengthening access to justice provisions in ASEAN countries, as well as tracking progress and measurement of access to justice. The initiative aimed to develop national commitments to strengthen the rule of law and implement Goal 16 of the SDGs for peace, justice and strong institutions, and concrete actions for future cooperation in the ASEAN region. 

Discussions focused on the needs, challenges and opportunities of institutions and  mechanisms for implementing and tracking progress on the targets of Goal 16 in ASEAN countries at national and subnational levels, including Indonesia’s experience in piloting the implementation of Goal 16. 

Participants exchanged experiences in developing national indices on access to justice - including developing indicators and collecting data - and discussed the role of such indices in monitoring progress towards achieving SDG 16.3. They also shared challenges and lessons learned in developing legal and policy frameworks for access to justice and legal aid to achieve equal access to justice for all. 

To conclude, the meeting elaborated on the potential role of ASEAN bodies (for example, ALAWMM, ASLOM and AICHR*) in supporting cooperation between ASEAN member states in strengthening the rule of law, access to justice and legal aid under the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint 2025.

The continued commitment, by IDLO and partners in the region, to advancing equal access to justice for all and strengthened legal aid in the context of the 2030 Agenda, was echoed in Dr. Faustina Pereira’s remarks, “IDLO has found in the new Agenda - in the Political Declaration, in Goal 16 and indeed across all of the SDGs - a most heartening reflection of the approach that is guiding us in furthering our core mandate to advance the rule of law and development.”

The ASEAN Regional Consultation was made possible by the collaboration of the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas), the National Law Development Agency of the Indonesian Ministry of Law and Human Rights (BPHN), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, UNDP Indonesia, OSJI (Open Society Justice Initiative) and IDLO through the Indonesia Rule of Law Fund Program - with the support of Namati and the South East Asia Legal Aid Network (SEALAW).

Further documentation and outcomes of the event will follow. 

*ALAWMM – ASEAN Law Ministers Meeting

ASLOM - ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting

AICHR - ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights