Blog May 16, 2024

Passing the Torch: Celebrating Young Justice Leaders, Past and Present: Reflections from the first cohort of Young Justice Leaders and welcoming the next cohort

By Kelechi Achinonu, Agnes Cynthia Amoding, Gülşen Güler, Vino Lucero, Léah Guyot
Front page of Passing the Torch: Celebrating Young Justice Leaders, Past and Present: Reflections from the first cohort of Young Justice Leaders and welcoming the next cohort
  • Justice
  • Pathfinders
  • Young Justice Leaders

As members of the inaugural cohort of Young Justice Leaders, our journey has been transformative and filled with opportunities to advocate for justice and youth participation on a global scale over the past two years. Convened by Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, we formed a diverse group of young changemakers committed to advancing access to justice for all.

From the outset, our goals were clear: to amplify voices often unheard in international spaces—particularly those of young people and those belonging to the Global Majority and to gather knowledge and perspective to fuel our advocacy work back in our respective communities.

A platform for elevating youth voices

The program began amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a time marked by both a global health crisis and the exacerbation of existing injustices. Despite the limitations posed by the pandemic, we seized every opportunity to engage with justice-related issues. Through participation in international convenings, intergenerational dialogues, and opportunities for digital advocacy, we honed our skills and deepened our understanding of justice and its intersectionality with grassroots concerns.

Some of the significant milestones during our journey as Young Justice Leaders were the opportunity to participate in high-level events—including high-level debates at the United Nations, the High-Level Political Forum, the World Justice Forum, the Hague Justice Week, and the OGP Global Summit—in addition to interviews and even during consultations for the Justice Action Coalition Joint Deliverables. These platforms provided us with a global stage to raise awareness about important issues such as improved and increased justice financing, youth justice reform, LGBTQ+ rights, freedom of information, data justice, and also customary and informal justice. Our efforts to amplify youth voices and advocacy demands resonated with stakeholders worldwide, contributing to greater awareness and prioritization of pressing justice issues.

Throughout the program, we also focused on breaking silos and promoting a more holistic and interdisciplinary approach to justice, especially within the framework of Sustainable Development Goal 16+. By connecting with individuals from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, we gained invaluable insights into the complexities of justice-related issues and the interconnectedness of global challenges.

Growing as justice leaders

Our experiences within the Young Justice Leaders program have been invaluable in shaping us into more confident, well-rounded advocates for justice. We recognize the importance of strengthening synergies among Young Justice Leaders, fostering leadership progression through mentoring, and providing direct support for actions and projects. These insights will undoubtedly benefit future cohorts of Young Justice Leaders.

As we conclude our tenure, we reflect on the impact of this experience. We emerge as wiser, more empowered justice advocates. By creating opportunities for global connections and an intentional space for youth voices, the Young Justice Leaders program has opened doors for collaboration, provided avenues for co-learning, and equipped us with tools needed to create change in our communities. As we move forward, we carry the lessons learned and the connections made, grateful for the boost provided by the Young Justice Leaders program in achieving our goals as advocates for justice.

This is only the beginning–what’s next?

We must keep championing other fellow young leaders and elevate our stories and the change we strive for. We need more dialogues, not only among youth but also across generations. The next cohort should continue driving the movement. By centering lived experiences and shedding light on the ramifications of injustice, we can steer discussions towards meaningful action, beyond mere rhetoric.

We urge world leaders to take a nuanced approach to go beyond tokenistic gestures and emphasize the importance of genuine inclusion and meaningful engagement of youth voices. By prioritizing dialogue and action over mere representation, the new cohort and other young leaders can build upon our experiences to effect tangible change in the pursuit of equal access to justice for all.

To the next Young Justice Leaders, we offer the following advice: Embrace every opportunity to learn, collaborate, and advocate for change. Your voice matters, and your contributions have the power to drive meaningful impact in the pursuit of justice for all. Stay committed to amplifying the voices of marginalized communities, challenging systemic inequalities, and promoting inclusive approaches to justice. We are rooting for you!


Announcing the 2024–2025 Young Justice Leaders!
With that, we are thrilled to announce the new cohort of Young Justice Leaders who will carry the torch forward starting today = until the end of 2025. This diverse group of passionate leaders embodies the spirit of youth-led advocacy and are committed to advancing access to justice for all. As they embark on their journey, we look forward to seeing the impact they will make and the positive change they will inspire in their communities and beyond.

Abbas Luyombo (he/him), Uganda

Abbas, a 27-year-old Ugandan with visual impairment, is a self-driven lawyer with a passion for climate justice, human rights, and gender equality, and aims to create an inclusive world where every voice is heard, and every right defended.

Anoushka Sinha (she/her), India
Anoushka is a social entrepreneur and human rights activist and has been advocating for gender and education equality since the age of 10.

Eva Langbehn (she/her), Argentina
Eva is a human rights lawyer and public policy specialist and dedicated to advancing justice for marginalized groups, particularly women and children in Argentina.

Giuliano Borter (he/him), Switzerland
Giuliano is an SDG16 Advocate and Partnership Developer at the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL), focusing on expanding the organization’s funding base and creating diverse and sustainable partnerships.

Kathryn Grace Hulseman (she/her), United States
Kathryn is a senior research associate with the World Justice Project and passionate about work that advances sustainable economic development, social justice, and human rights.

Patricia Peace Ejang (she/her), Uganda
Patricia is a feminist, writer, activist, and lawyer, and currently the C.E.O and co-founder of LawBot Africa, an artificial intelligence (AI)- powered legal tech platform that seeks to enhance access to justice through increasing access to legal information.

Learn more about the Young Justice leaders here!

Related Resources