Cutting through the mumbo jumbo to identify the quick wins, low hanging fruit, and nodal entry points

Where is the greatest need, where can we add value?
“We need to prioritise
“But everything’s a priority
“So we prioritise the priorities
“Why don’t we prioritise what we cannot do?
— Extract from a donor meeting on rebuilding the justice system in a post-conflict state

The justice sector is complex. Language has been adapted to reflect this complexity and has become correspondingly more opaque in an effort to … join up the dots. In so doing, development agencies risk losing sight of the basic services needed to restore a functioning, joined-up, justice system – and the minimum resources needed in support.

Data, on the other hand, are matters of fact. A data map of the justice system – where hard (administrative) data are checked against survey data (of practitioners and users) – can show, if visualised, the functioning of the justice system in ways that are accessible and actionable.

Busy planners, policy makers, donor agencies, civil society organisations - and the public at large - need to be able to see the Big Picture at a glance and take into account both the country’s context and political economy. Everyone needs data sets that allow them to drill down beneath the surface to what is happening rather than hear accounts of what seems to be happening.


In fragile and conflict-affected countries, where everything seems to be an urgent priority, a Justice Snapshot shows the gaps in - and obstacles to - getting a basic justice system up and running following the cessation of conflict. A Justice Snapshot of Central Equatorial State in South Sudan was completed in under four weeks; and a Somalia Justice Snapshot completed in three months to illustrate to the justice gatekeepers the utility of: a) a system-wide perspective and evidence-base to inform prioritisation and sequencing; b) coordination to ‘operationalise’ and maximize the impact of any plan; and, c) a monitoring and evaluation tool to scale up what works and stop what does not.

The result is an open-source data set visualized in a way that everyone can get around and agree what is to be done by whom, when and where – and a living tool that charts actual progress and real impact – without the mumbo jumbo.

You can download the Justice Snapshot information leaflet here

The Governance and Justice Group ( developed the methodology with the Justice Mapping Center (USA) in association with the Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law (USA).

Contact: Kathryn English (; Eric Cadora ( and Prof Tom Geraghty (