OECD Secretary-General

OECD Roundtable on Equal Access to Justice : Closing Remarks


Remarks by Angel Gurría

OECD Secretary-General

6 July 2018 - Riga, Latvia

(As prepared for delivery) 



Thank you Minister Rasnačs,

My sincere thanks, once again, to you and the Government of Latvia for hosting this exchange of ideas and to Attorney General and Minister of Justice Schwartz for co-chairing this roundtable.


We need more action and we need more momentum!

According to the UN, almost four billion people, more than half of the world’s population live outside the protection of the law . Making access to justice a reality for all is a momentous challenge. Yet it is an inseparable part of the world we are collectively responsible for achieving by 2030; it is part of the SDGs. And from today’s discussions, I see three interlinked avenues for action:

  • First, we need robust tools for measurement and evaluation to determine whether people’s needs are being met and to better understand the capabilities and constraints of particular groups, for example, indigenous men and women, the elderly and the young, single parents and migrants. We know that there is insufficient data and a lack of adequate tools for measurement and evaluation, especially from the perspective of people and business.

    Legal needs surveys are a critical tool for advancing our understanding. In this context, the forthcoming OECD-Open Society Foundations “Toolkit on Legal Needs Surveys and Access to Justice” will propose effective strategies for measuring access to justice at a local, national and global level distilling experience acquired over the past 25 years. The toolkit will be launched this November in Korea during the 6th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy. 

  • Second, we need to further develop our understanding of policies that work in addressing legal problems, especially ones that empower individuals, communities and business. I was encouraged to hear from all of you on the initiatives you are taking to facilitate access to justice. For example, our host Latvia is embarking on the “Consult First” project, which facilitates the constructive dialogue and understanding between businesses and regulators, with a focus on fulfilment of regulatory requirements rather than punishment. At the OECD we remain committed to supporting these exchanges as a proven mechanism for transfer of good practices.

  • Finally, we need more exchange of good practices at the global level to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, including SDG 16. The UN High-Level Political Forum in 2019, with the focus theme of “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” is a key opportunity to mobilise around access to justice for all, especially for marginalised communities. We will support the process towards 2019 in the proposed Global Hub and through regular dialogue in this fora and online. We are grateful to Portugal for offering to host the next Roundtable on access to justice in 2019, which will focus on exploring the potential of technologies in improving access to justice.


Let’s not lose the momentum we have generated over the past few days. I invite you to partner with the OECD in this effort. With your support we can turn the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goal on access to justice into a reality and achieve more peaceful, fairer and more inclusive societies for better policies, for better lives everywhere.




See also:

OECD work on Access to Justice

OECD work on Public Governance

OECD work with Latvia


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