The 2021 Innovating Justice Forum: the complete recap

Making people-centered justice work

From 8-10 February, The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) welcomed hundreds of justice practitioners and thought-leaders from around the world for the 2021 Innovating Justice Forum. The three-day virtual conference featured innovators, lawyers, judges, investors, ministers, and academics to discuss developing and financing people-centred justice. Altogether, the gathering formed a people-centred justice movement committed to the mission of achieving equal access to justice for all by 2030.

Mr Paul Neo, H.E. Abdullah Al Majid, Judge Ginger L. Wren and Ms Michala Mackay on “Government as an Innovator: seeking the right leadership”, 9 February 2021

Delivery Justice, Rigorously 

Day 1

On Day 1, participants focussed on “Making people-centred justice happen.” The day began with 21 prominent justice innovators from Africa, MENA and Ukraine making innovator pitches of their ‘gamechanging’ solutions, tools, and platforms for realising people-centred justice. The presenters represented numerous countries and had their innovations judged on four criteria: team, sustainability, scalability and impact.

Day 1 also saw the launch of HiiL’s 2021 Trend Report: Delivering Justice, Rigorously. The report details task forces as solutions to create “enabling environments” and realise people-centred justice. “We need a different framework,” said Maurits Barendrecht, Director of Research & Development at HiiL. “People don’t need judgements, they need solutions.” Read the report here.

Maurits continued, “At HiiL, we believe in learning. These task forces already exist around the world, but many focus on what is not working rather than improving what already does. Bringing about people-centred justice is not easy but with learning, data, and leadership, we can convert what is hard into what is possible.” Click here for a recap of more highlights from Day 1. 

Day 2

The theme for Day 2 emphasised “Bringing people-centred justice to national agendas.” Throughout the day, speakers and panelists examined case studies and experiences to highlight challenges and possible interventions needed to encourage national governments of their role in promoting people-centred justice. The sessions also considered “the right leadership”.

“Strong leadership isn’t only about institutional reforms but also requires examining people’s experiences within justice systems,” said Alejandro Alvarez, Director of the Rule of Law Unit Executive Office of the Secretary-General at the United Nations. “Public servants and individuals must account for how people experience their respective issues and search for ways to solve people’s problems.”

During a ‘fire-side chat’ exchange, HiiL’s very own Rachel Ampaire, Programme Manager with the Uganda team, and Edgar Kuhimbisa, Information, Communications and Technology Officer with the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS – Uganda) discussed lessons from the HiiL – JLOS partnership, and ongoing HiiL projects in Uganda

The second day wrapped up with an interactive panel titled, Government as an innovator: seeking the right leadership. “From desperation comes innovation, from crisis to opportunity; we [all] need to find innovative ways to resolve disputes and conflicts,” said Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, a county court judge in the Criminal Division of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Florida. “We need Gamechangers, leaders, and governments all to come forward to make justice innovation work.” Learn more about Day 2

Day 3

On the third and final day, the Forum addressed “Funding for people-centred justice”, introducing the money-question to the conversation. Participants probed various types of funding from both the public and private sectors and explored how governments, donor agencies, and the private sector can support gamechanging justice initiatives. Aniket Doegar of Haqdarshak said: “When we first applied for the HiiL Accelerator we were reaching about 1000 families a month. We are now reaching over 200,000 families a month. At the end of the day the most important things are your unit economics and your plan for scaling.” 

We, as a local government, have a responsibility to act,” said Saskia Bruines, Deputy Mayor of The Hague. “Data and research show us the need but only offer advice. And because cities provide many services, we play an important role increasing access to justice. We can bring the right people to the table to achieve the right results based on local needs.” Click here for a recap of highlights from Day 3.

In short, the 2021 Innovating Justice Forum offered justice sector innovators, practitioners, and decision-makers a space to exchange ideas and recommit to delivering justice more effectively in communities around the world. We saw concrete examples of gamechanging justice initiatives that work. We saw a shared ambition by justice leadership to open up the justice sector more to innovation. And we saw the need to make funding part of the conversation when we speak about justice innovation. 

“Inequality and access to justice are closely related,” said Birgitta Tazelaar, Deputy Director General for International Cooperation at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “You are here because you have contributed innovative solutions to think of real ways to make people’s lives better.”

To learn more about HiiL’s Innovating Justice Forum, visit:

You can also check our YouTube page for recap videos, and our Twitter account for the live updates of the Forum:

Further Reading: