has reiterated and reinforced its interest and commitment to SDG 16 through various means and mechanisms, as evidenced by its 2018 VNR, as a member of the Taskforce on Justice, and as a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). In 2019 and under Canadian leadership while Canada was co-Chair of the OGP, the OGP Coalition on Justice was announced. By linking its commitments to justice, through both SDG 16 and the OGP, Justice Canada has been able to support justice-related policy change domestically and internationally.
In the fall of 2019, the Access to Justice Secretariat within Justice Canada was established to drive greater coherence, enable, and enrich partnerships within the government and with civil society and increase policy work on access to justice issues. For example, the Access to Justice Secretariat participates in a Government of Canada interdepartmental taskforce, which seeks to share information and engage with equity-seeking communities to ensure the federal response to COVID-19 is adapted where possible to the needs of these communities.
Recognizing that access to justice and open government are mutually supportive, Justice Canada has proposed that an Open Justice commitment be included in Canada’s upcoming National Action Plan on Open Government (NAP). The key principles of open justice – transparency, accountability, innovation, and partnership – are embedded throughout the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDG 16 specifically urges us to develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels. The NAP process brings with it a particularly useful engagement factor, a multi-stakeholder forum and an independent review mechanism that engages civil society. The OGP has been useful for alignment, particularly in terms of the Joint Declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development
and concrete resources to advance justice
Take-Aways and Going Forward:
Given its commitment to access to justice, internationally and domestically, Justice Canada has been able to effectively bridge foreign and domestically focused justice work. While this new engagement strategy through the OGP NAP process has not yet been fully put in place due to delays related to COVID-19, it may inform how OGP NAP reporting can be more effectively applied to future VNRs.
* This case study draws from interviews with Open Government, Justice Canada, Government of Canada.