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Make the Road: Developing a Membership Model that Builds the Power of Immigrant and Working Class Communities

+Acumen, Open Society Justice Initiative,

Make the Road is the largest nonunion immigrant membership organization in New York, in the United States. This case study explores Make the Road’s experiments with innovative financing. To support this work, the team at Make the Road has developed a robust and diversified funding model. In 2019, the vast majority of the organization’s overall…

LAWPADI: Experimenting with Business Models to Provide Legal Services to Nigerians at Scale

+Acumen, Open Society Justice Initiative,

This case study explores the efforts of Tunde Ibidapo-Obe, founder Lawpadi, to develop a business model to fund an online platform for legal services in Nigeria. Initially, Tunde imagined Lawpadi could have a vetted panel of lawyers that they could refer customers to and charge a commission fee in exchange. When it became clear that…

Centre for Community Justice and Development: Using Innovative Financing to Sustain Legal Empowerment Work in South Africa

+Acumen, Open Society Justice Initiative,

This case study follows the story of Winnie Martens, founding director of the Centre for Community Justice (CCJD) in South Africa, as she shaped the organization into a nonprofit social enterprise focused on the intertwined mission of “justice” and “development” for local communities surrounding The University of KwaZulu-Natal. Today, the organization supports a network of…

Justice Policy Series, Part 1: Access to Justice

Open Government Partnership, Joseph Foti, Jessica Hickle, Maha Jweied,

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) provides an opportunity for government and civil society reformers to make government more transparent, participatory, and accountable. Working together, government and civil society co-create two-year action plans with concrete commitments across a broad range of issues that are then monitored by OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM). Until recently, access to…

The Legal Empowerment Movement and Its Implications

Peter Chapman,

Around the world, a global legal empowerment movement is transforming the way in which people access justice. The concept of legal empowerment is rooted in strengthening the ability of communities to: “understand, use and shape the law.” The movement relies on people helping one another to stand up to authority and challenge injustice. At its…

Justice In Government Toolkit

American University Justice Programs Office,

Civil legal aid is free legal assistance to those who cannot afford it, whether provided through direct services or court-based self-help centers, community education, medical-legal partnerships, and online information. Legal aid can help to improve the quality and efficiency of government programs, increase access to justice, and achieve policy outcomes and priorities. This Toolkit helps government policymakers,…

Legal Empowerment of the Poor: Innovating Access to Justice

Maaike de Langen, Maurits Barendrecht,

In this essay, we begin with some general observations on the state of access to justice. Because access to justice is hard to measure and data on such access are scarce, we give a description of the barriers to justice and mechanisms of exclusion and analyze how these work out for the poor in developing…

How to Register Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land (Burmese)

Namati Myanmar, Green Peasant Institute, Civil and Political Rights Campaign Group, My Justice Program,

In September 2018, the Myanmar government passed an amendment to the 2012 Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land (VFV) law that stipulated that all smallholder farmers currently using VFV land must submit an application for the right to use the land by March 3, 2019. Anyone who fails to do so may be evicted. This manual…

Zambia National Legal Aid Policy 2018

Republic of Zambia Ministry of Justice,

From the Zambia National Legal Aid Policy 2018, which has progressive policies around accessing justice, including the formal recognition of community paralegals: The Government of the Republic of Zambia has committed itself to enhancing equal access to justice particularly for the poor and vulnerable people, as part of its efforts to observe the rule of…

Bringing Law to Life: Paralegal Interventions in Natural Resource Exploitation

Posted by Sonkita Conteh in Community Paralegals, Land & Natural Resources

Introduction When a diamond mining company closed its operations in Mofuwe Village, in the south of Sierra Leone, it left behind three mined-out pits the size of several football pitches, a collapsed bridge, a blocked stream and an uncompleted community school building. It was as if the villagers woke up one morning and the company…

New book on protecting community lands and resources in Africa from Namati and Natural Justice

Posted by Marena Brinkhurst in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Land & Natural Resources, Resources & Research

In 2013, a group of 20 expert advocates from across Africa gathered for a three-day symposium to share experiences and practical strategies for effectively supporting communities to protect their lands and natural resources. The symposium illuminated many similarities between the types of threats to communities’ land and natural resource claims, as well as underlying factors that drive and exacerbate…

‘I just need my freedom’

Posted by AdvocAid & IRIN in Community Paralegals, Gender

This moving documentary by IRIN follows the work of Marvel and Victoria, two paralegals working for Namati’s partner AdvocAid in Sierra Leone. It illustrates the harsh reality of life for many women in Sierra Leone who come into contact with the police and the prison system. Marvel and Victoria bring hope to those suffering arbitrary…

Using paralegals to fight forced early marriage in Sierra Leone

Posted by Daniel Sesay in Community Paralegals

Early and forced marriage continues to be a widespread and serious problem in post-war Sierra Leone, especially in rural areas. It has become a common practice that abuses the rights of children and girls. Early marriage, also known as child marriage, is the marriage of someone before the age of 18 years. Such marriages are…

OpEd: A Citizenship Sea-Change in Bangladesh

Posted by Bremen Donovan in Citizenship

The Daily Star in Bangladesh printed an OpEd by Namati’s friend Bremen Donovan to coincide with a conference on Statelessness attended by Namati and its partner the Council of Minorities. It is one of the first times the wider Bengali public have been exposed to the work of paralegals from the Urdu-speaking community. The OpED…