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Cordaid access to justice

Justice and peace

In fragile and conflict-affected settings, the state is often unable to fulfil its primary obligation: to protect the population and maintain the rule of law.

Security and justice providers like the police and courts can be unresponsive while citizens bear the burden, with women, youth, and the poorest people disproportionally affected.

Shrinking space for civil society

Civil society is the foundation of our security and justice initiatives. Unfortunately, in recent years, the space for civil society to advocate and lobby for fundamental rights has shrunk significantly.

In several countries, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the right to congregate was prohibited by the authorities. In some cases, the measures to reduce citizens’ freedom of speech are still active and undermine attempts to hold authorities accountable.

In other countries, the democratically elected government has been overthrown by the military, after which the ability of civil society actors to operate freely becomes limited.

The collapse of the Afghan government in 2021 has had severe consequences for the position of women and has curtailed opportunities for civil society to advocate for inclusion.

Despite these challenges, we continue our work, supporting local civil society actors with tools to develop effective advocacy agendas and bring their voices to international fora.

Better security, justice and governance outcomes

We strengthen the capacities of people to effectively advocate and achieve better security, justice and governance outcomes. We do this through joint research and analysis of the needs and priorities of justice seekers and capacity strengthening for better advocacy and influencing strategies.

System strengthening: the sustainable way forward

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Increasing responsiveness and accountability

We also reinforce the responsiveness and accountability of security and justice providers in volatile and fragile settings. We do this by introducing results-based financing for security, justice, and governance institutions. This has proven to lead to better security and justice outcomes for local communities.

We work with the formal security and justice sector, as well as with civil society and communities. We also support local NGOs to provide legal aid and mediate in conflicts.


Through various programmes, we enhance inclusive peacebuilding and security processes which are responsive to the needs of citizens and their communities. Our work promotes the role and leadership of women and youth in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and enhancing local security.

All our actions are anchored in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 2250. Civil society’s engagement in peacebuilding and statebuilding is a critical contribution to both conflict and crisis prevention. 

Resolving conflict and promoting social cohesion 

Women and youth are an integral part of inclusive, peaceful societies. However, their contribution to peacebuilding and security processes is often neglected.

In Iraq, for instance, we have involved young people in advocacy to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence.

In Burundi, DRC and Uganda, more than 400 young people participated in the Youth Borderlands Forum in 2021.

This project was developed by Cordaid and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, UNOY. Local partner organisations received training in research and advocacy and strengthened their cross-border collaboration to work towards more inclusive peacebuilding in the region.

With our work on this topic, we contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations:




  • Health care

    Ensuring access to quality health care for all
  • Humanitarian assistance

    Assisting people in some of the largest crises in the world
  • Food systems

    Strengthening agri-food systems and creating job opportunities
  • Education

    Providing better access to quality education



  • Triple nexus

    We aim to link relief to rehabilitation, development and peace
  • Climate justice

    We actively pursue sustainability principles across all our activities
  • Gender equity

    We want equal rights for women, men, and non-binary people
  • Diversity and inclusion

    We need diversity to build peaceful, equitable and resilient societies