Crucial to “reimagine” access to justice: Says UN expert

GENEVA (26 June 2023) – A UN expert said today that it was crucial to “reimagine access to justice” and view the rule of law from perspectives of those around the world who bear the brunt of inequalities, systematic discrimination and persistent marginalisation.

In her first report to the Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Margaret Satterthwaite outlined major challenges to the independence of judges and lawyers that she will prioritise in her new role.

“I will focus on autocratisation and democratic decay, climate crisis and climate-related displacement, digital technologies, efforts by those with economic advantages to influence the judiciary, and systemic inequalities and discrimination that threaten independence,” Satterthwaite said.

The UN expert will also focus on respect for Indigenous Peoples’ justice systems, challenges to judicial integrity, and the strengthening of independent prosecutors.

Satterthwaite noted with concern the targeting of lawyers and harmful structures and practices within the profession. “I have a special interest in closing the justice gap by expanding the legal ecosystem and supporting grassroots justice solutions,” she said.

“I look forward to collaborating with Member States and other actors to address systemic problems within judicial and legal systems. We must safeguard the role of independent judges and lawyers in checking unaccountable power and protecting rights, to advance access to justice for all,” the expert said.


Ms. Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. She was appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers by the Human Rights Council in October 2022. Professor Satterthwaite is an international human rights scholar and practitioner with decades of experience in the field. She is a Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

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 For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected]).

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