Communities around the world are reeling from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to contain it. Now more than ever, the ability to know, use, and shape the law is critical. Access to health care and various forms of relief hinge on the ability to know one’s rights and navigate complex systems. As emergency actions escalate, citizens must ensure that governments do not use the pandemic as an excuse to entrench unjust or discriminatory policies.
By addressing these needs and more, civil society grassroots justice defenders play an essential role in responding to the pandemic. But adapting to the evolving public health emergency—particularly while under quarantine conditions—poses a monumental challenge. Most legal empowerment groups are severely under-resourced and under threat. This brief offers recommendations for policymakers, donors, and multilateral institutions on how to finance and protect grassroots justice defenders during and after the pandemic. Doing so will help the world to mount a just and equitable response to, and recovery from, the global crisis.