What are society’s most pressing racial, social, and economic justice issues?

Illustration: We (Heart) Solidarity by Izabela Markova
Illustration: We (Heart) Solidarity by Izabela Markova

Our European-wide mapping and grassroots consultation is trying to find out.

Litigation can bring about broad, systemic change in society. But for racial, social, and economic justice movements, the cases that go to court are often not litigated on the terms of the communities who are most impacted by their outcomes. Most of these communities face marginalisation and oppression in their daily lives, and they face further marginalisation from the very judicial processes that matter to them.

Systemic Justice’s central premise is that communities should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to using litigation as a tool in their campaigns for justice. They need to be the ones setting the objectives, articulating the remedies, and framing the narrative, with litigators supporting the cause by doing the legal legwork that comes with it. This also applies to what we’ll do as an organisation: we want to take our cue from those working at community level on racial, social, and economic justice and contribute where the need is felt most pressing. 

How do we find that out? By asking. Our European-wide mapping of priorities in racial, social, and economic justice includes a needs assessment survey open since November 2021, nearly 100 1:1 conversations with community activists and organisers, and the mapping of 1000+ organisations and movements in Europe working on racial, social, and economic justice.

But you can’t learn everything you need to know from that, which is why we are organising six thematic group conversations with organisations and movements who are at the forefront of challenging the most pressing issues in society that they have direct experience and knowledge of. These conversations take place with close to 100 organisations over the coming months, from April to July. Kicking us off, we focused on climate justice on 21-22 April, and will next cover access to justice, policing, social protection, free movement, and anti-racism.

Importantly, this process of identifying opportunities and priorities is not only to allow Systemic Justice to set its compass to where we can be most useful: we will share the analysis and findings for everyone to use. We’ll publish our findings under an open-source license and our hope is that the analyses, materials, and infographics that we develop with those we are consulting with will be useful for campaigners and for directing more resources towards the work that needs it the most.

Sharing information is not the only objective of the roundtables: sharing space and connecting with others engaged in similar struggles is just as important. Our approach is rooted in intersectionality, which means we bring together folks who work on similar issues but from a variety of angles and personal perspectives. We want to recognise that injustices are complex and multi-faceted, and that they are shaped by compound forms of oppression that cut across and are systemic within society.

The outcome of the consultation will be published in the fall of 2022. Following this, we’ll start developing litigation projects with community organisations and movements to begin tackling the most pressing issues of systemic injustice surfaced through the consultation.

Read more about our roundtables here!

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