Vivek founded Namati in 2011 to build the movement for legal empowerment around the world.
He cut his teeth on law and empowerment in Sierra Leone. From 2003 to 2007, Vivek co-founded and co-directed the Sierra Leonean organization Timap for Justice, which has been recognized by the International Crisis Group, Transparency International, and President Jimmy Carter as a pioneering model for delivering justice services in the context of a weak state and a plural legal system.
Namati now works with Timap and other organizations in Sierra Leone to scale up paralegal services there. While in Sierra Leone Vivek also supervised the human rights clinic at Fourah Bay College.
From 2007 to 2011, he served as senior counsel in the Justice Reform Group of the World Bank. His work focused on rule of law reform and governance, primarily in West Africa and South Asia.
Before moving to Sierra Leone Vivek worked at Human Rights Watch and clerked for Hon. Marsha Berzon on the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.
In 1997-1998 he lived in a hut of dung and sticks in a village in Kutch, his native place, working on watershed management and girls’ education with two grassroots development organizations- Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangethan and Sahjeevan.
Vivek graduated from Harvard College, magna cum laude, and Yale Law School. His publications include Between Law and Society: Paralegals and the Provision of Justice Services in Sierra Leone and Worldwide in the Yale Journal of International Law and Allies Unknown: Legal Empowerment and Social Accountability in the Harvard Journal of Health and Human Rights.
Vivek serves on the international advisory council of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the advisory board of the evaluation firm ID Insight, and the governing board of the public entrepreneurship organization Res Publica. He was an affiliate expert with the UN Commission on Legal Empowerment , and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2008, Vivek received the Pioneer Award from the North American South Asian Bar Association. In 2014, Vivek was welcomed as an Ashoka Fellow, watch him tell Namati’s story here.
In the Media:
- In this interview with Open Society Foundations, Vivek discusses how Namati began and what it’s aiming to do.
- In this piece in the Boston Globe, Farah Stockman interviews Vivek and highlights Namati’s efforts to protect community rights over land and natural resources.
- In this video, Vivek speaks about Namati’s work at the Council on Foreign Relations. He begins at 34:00 with the story of a former client, a street vendor in Freetown who was beaten unconscious by a drunk, off-duty police officer.
- In this talk at the World Justice Forum, Vivek describes why he started Namati. He begins at 42:40 with the story of Nubian community paralegals seeking citizenship rights in Kenya.
- Follow Vivek on Twitter here
- Law and disorder: rough justice rules in the developing world
In an op ed in The Guardian, Namati CEO Vivek Maru argues that, while there has been significant progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we… More »
- Justice Initiatives: Legal Empowerment
The latest edition of Justice Initiatives explores the nature of legal empowerment and its impact in various forms. With an introduction by George Soros, the book includes… More »
- Obama Meets Koroma: Time to Talk Land Rights
Major reforms are necessary to ensure that investment projects lead to sustainable, inclusive development in Sierra Leone. Namati’s Sonkita Conteh and Vivek Maru argue that President… More »
- From Bribery to Empowerment
Vivek Maru and Margaux Hall argue that fines collected for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) could be used to establish a multilateral financing mechanism for… More »
- What a Paralegal in Sierra Leone Needs to Know
Timap for Justice, a pioneering Sierra Leonean NGO that provides basic justice services, launched its manual for community-based paralegals in September 2012. The manual offers guidance on basic law, including… More »
- A Letter to Rio+20: Sustainable Development Isn’t Possible Without Land Rights
Namati CEO, Vivek Maru, and Rights and Resources Initiative Coordinator, Andy White, argue that community land rights and protection are crucial to sustainable development. As… More »
- New Directions in Justice Reform
This paper elaborates new directions in justice reform under the World Bank’s Updated Strategy and Implementation Plan on Strengthening Governance, Tackling Corruption (Updated Governance and Anticorruption (GAC)… More »
- Akbar, Birbal, and a South Asia Regional Meeting on Monitoring and Evaluating Legal Empowerment
On April 19 and 20, 2012 in Dhaka, Namati, BRAC, Marg, and the Open Society Justice Initiative held a regional meeting on methods of monitoring and evaluating legal empowerment. … More »
- For the Sake of Fairness: Justice in Development
This piece originally appeared on the World Bank Governance for Development blog.
Vivek Maru argues that four frontiers necessary for justice reform to move… More »
- Legal Power to the People
In an op-ed published at Project Syndicate, Namati CEO Vivek Maru argues that legal empowerment is crucial for taking forward two of the great human… More »
- The FTAA, Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment, and Human Rights
This briefing paper begins by giving an outline of the WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Agreement (TRIPS) and of the Doha declaration by… More »
- Poetic Meets Tragic: Tagore in the Light of Max Weber
An essay featured in The Poet’s Challenge to Schooling: Creative Freedom for the Human Soul- A Generative and Critical Analysis of Rabindranath Tagore’s Innovations in… More »
- Timap for Justice: A Paralegal Approach to Justice Services in Sierra Leone
In this book, criminal justice practitioners from around the world explore practical ways of delivering legal aid in criminal justice matters to the poorest sectors… More »
- Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment: A Review of World Bank Practice
This paper reviews the World Bank’s existing work in access to justice and suggests directions for further Bank engagement in this area. Access to justice… More »
- Law for the Global Poor
To the Editor:
Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros argue convincingly for a new, third-generation approach to international human rights that focuses on the enforcement of… More »
- Allies Unknown: Legal Empowerment and Social Accountability
This essay suggests that two strands of social action which have hitherto developed separately — legal empowerment and social accountability — ought to learn from one another.… More »
- Community-Based Paralegal Programs: A Practitioner’s Guide
Around the world, billions of people suffer because they lack access to justice services. Unable to afford lawyers and ignored by authorities, their rights are… More »
- Between Law and Society: Paralegals and the Provision of Justice Services in Sierra Leone and Worldwide
Efforts to advance justice and improve the rule of law can be divided into two categories. One set of efforts—by far the better funded and… More »
- The Challenges of African Legal Dualism: An Experiment in Sierra Leone
This short essay considers the challenges of legal dualism in Sierra Leone and explains the way Timap for Justice attempts to respond to those challenges.… More »
- Ravaging the Vulnerable: Abuses Against Persons at High Risk of HIV Infection in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is stoking an emerging AIDS epidemic with violent police abuse of sex workers, injection drug users and men who have sex with men. In… More »
- Framing Local Conflict and Justice in Bangladesh
The institutional landscape of local dispute resolution in Bangladesh is rich: it includes the traditional process of shalish, longstanding and impressive civil society efforts to… More »