This research theme concerns the investigation of mechanisms to promote access to justice as a human right. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: 'everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.' Similar declarations can be found in the major human rights frameworks, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
At the heart of the rule of law is the capacity of people to access justice. This takes on heightened significance as law becomes ubiquitous in our daily lives. For researchers, policymakers, and jurists, the range of issues and barriers posed to people in accessing justice for their justiciable problems has often required inventive solutions. These reform efforts have been aimed at fulfilling the capacity of people to navigate their way through their juridified social worlds and have been historically categorised into five distinct access to justice conceptions, often described as ‘waves’: access to lawyers and courts; institutional redesign and procedural reform; demystification of law; preventative action; and proactive reforms (i.e. health-law nexus partnerships). As part of this research theme, the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights is undertaking research on the current state of access to justice in England and Wales, with a focus on collective forms of access to justice and the modernisation of the courts and tribunals system.