During the COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to send you more frequent updates.
Cooperative and compassionate global leadership is critical to addressing the consequences and human costs of COVID-19.
This is why I am proud that grassroots justice organisations are adapting and responding to the challenges of this global pandemic, some of them supported by the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund. Justice defenders have been on the frontline as legal institutions have faced interruption or delay, and their work is essential to addressing exacerbating inequalities worldwide. Access to justice strengthens our human rights, including access to public services and social and economic opportunities, as we collectively shape an equitable post-COVID-19 world.
The demand for justice predates the pandemic, of course, and lies at the heart of many of the conflicts that The Elders have worked on since our founding in 2007. In recent months, Lakhdar Brahimi represented The Elders at a series of virtual dialogues we convened with The Carter Center with both Palestinian and Israeli civil society and human rights activists, sharing perspectives on how to address the risks of annexation and advance Palestinian human rights. Israeli participants emphasised the importance of Israel’s obligations under international law, whilst Palestinian speakers highlighted the importance of supporting the voices of emerging Palestinian activists to address internal divisions amongst the political elite.
Justice is indispensable to conflict resolution, and continued dialogue around these deeply complex issues is essential. As my fellow Elder Ban Ki-moon emphasised recently in his address to the United Nations Security Council, although the COVID-19 crisis has limited peacebuilding capabilities, it has also provided opportunities to promote discussions around additional inequalities.
COVID-19 has shone a light on the acute vulnerabilities of our interconnected world. Yet we cannot address these issues of equality, justice and safety without collective action and multilateral leadership. The only way to emerge from this pandemic stronger is through international dialogue, transparency and accountability, and these ideals should be further built upon in the coming months and years.
Featured image: Hina Jilani
Pioneering lawyer and pro-democracy campaigner; a leading activist in Pakistan’s women’s movement and international champion of human rights.
– Founded Pakistan’s first all-women law firm; first legal aid centre; and national Human Rights Commission
– Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan since 1992
– UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, 2000-2008
– Awarded the Millennium Peace Prize for Women, 2001
“I always had this feeling that if you see injustice, you have to speak out against it; otherwise
you are not in a position to complain.”