Girl reads speech to classmates during school assembly in Yemen.

Governance and Justice

This program fosters better governance and justice systems so people can lead more secure and prosperous lives.

The Governance and Justice program seeks to foster better and more inclusive governance and justice systems so that everyone can lead more secure and prosperous lives. 

Free speech, rule of law, access to justice — all are under threat, as global indicators show downward trends. The past characterization of the developing world as comprised of many poor, but relatively stable countries no longer holds. Violent conflict has emerged as a central challenge to development, affecting even countries that have experienced growth.

The program focuses on two crosscutting objectives: 

  • Create safer spaces, free from violent conflict and insecurity
  • Empower vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, to prevent and overcome gender violence

The impact of insecurity is far-ranging, from the forced marriage of young girls to outbreaks of violence during political protests and elections, and the violence and fear that often permeates the slums of rapidly growing cities. This insecurity is particularly devastating for women, youth, and other vulnerable groups who tend to have less access to the resources needed to protect themselves, including political influence, economic opportunities, and an effective justice system.

Existing formal justice systems do not allow most people to make their voices heard or hold decision-makers accountable. In many parts of the world, public institutions often fail to reach the poor and vulnerable. Moreover, informal and traditional forms of governance and justice need to be carefully understood for their potential to either improve, or reinforce, the situations of vulnerable groups.


The Governance and Justice program funds research exclusively through competitive calls. Announcements and details on eligibility and thematic focus for funding opportunities will be posted on IDRC’s funding page.


Global Affairs Canada

Explore research projects that we support.


  • It’s time Canada make access to justice a reality for all

    Photo credit: Graham Crouch / World Bank When a child is denied access to school, or an ailing person is shut out of a hospital, the media are quick to expose the injustice. Denial of health care or an education is unthinkable for most...

    Adrian Di Giovanni, Lotta Teale, Vivek Maru
  • Syrian refugees: Shifting from crisis response to opportunity

    Photo credit: UN Photo / Mark Garten Welcoming over 30,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in the past year is a reflection of the shared values and generous spirit of Canadians and communities, businesses and governments across this country....

    Roula El-Rifai
  • Using research to improve access to justice around the world

    Photo credit: John Ferguson / Oxfam In many countries in the developing world, people have little access to justice. This has profound impacts on their lives. In informal settlements and inner cities, the lack of respect for basic legal...

    Adrian Di Giovanni, Gloria Song

Publications and resources

Through books, articles, research publications, and studies, we aim to widen the impact of our investment and advance development research.


kNOw Fear: Safer public spaces for women and girls