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Supporting Grassroots Legal Advocates / Community Paralegals

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Facilitator Guide: Kenyan Community Land Act

Namati, FAO ,

In 2016 Kenya signed into law the Community Land Act (CLA), a progressive piece of legislation that gave life to Article 63 of the Constitution of Kenya. The CLA presents an unprecedented opportunity for communities to legally claim rights to their land and have complete decision-making power about how their land is used and managed….

Making the Law Count: Environment Justice Stories on Community Paralegal Work in India (Version 2)

Centre for Policy Research (CPR) - Namati Environmental Justice Program,

Across the world, poor communities bear a disproportionate burden of the environmental cost of development. Harmful projects such as polluting industrial units, municipal disposal sites or mining projects are usually situated close to poor neighborhoods. These communities grapple on a daily basis with environmental impacts which exposes them to toxic contamination, adversely affect their livelihoods…

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…

A Few Interventions and Offerings from Five Movement Lawyers to the Access to Justice Movement

Jennifer Ching, Thomas B. Harvey, Meena Jagannath, Purvi Shah, Blake Strode,

We are five lawyers who occupy very different corners of justice work. We are civil rights, human rights, and criminal defense lawyers, and we have worked at and managed legal services programs. We have taught law at law schools and universities and have built our own organizations. We currently work in interdisciplinary spaces with community…

Hybrid entities can bring for-profit strategies to NGO funding

Louis Bickford,

This resource touches on how Hybrid entities that mix for-profit and not-for-profit strategies have the potential to free NGOs from constantly seeking foundation funding. Through his experiences in both the NGO world and now through a startup in Silicon Valley Louis Bickford shares insights of his journey so far

How to Register as a Social Enterprise in Bangladesh

Shaveena Anam,

This Legal Toolkit will assist new social entrepreneurs to navigate the registration process. Registration can be a lengthy and difficult battle which will come with a lot of responsibility. Once completed, you will have reporting obligations and will need to keep detailed financial records, provide an audit of accounts to the tax office, and set…

Task Force on Justice Innovating Working Group Report

HiiL Innovating Justice, Taskforce on Justice,

This is the report of the Innovation Working Group of the Task Force on Justice.  The Innovation Working Group was asked to review the evidence of unmet justice needs, explore the potential for innovation, explore the investment possibilities for promising innovation areas, provide parameters for enhancing innovation for SDG16.3, and to make recommendations on these…

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,…

History in the making: How communities in Kenya are claiming their land rights

Posted by Jaron Vogelsang in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Community Land Protection, Namati News

Over 60% of Kenya’s land mass is community land. The indigenous people that live off these lands have done so for generations, and yet they’ve never had the legal rights to govern them. As a result, they are vulnerable to having their land and resources grabbed for mining, agribusiness, and public infrastructure projects. But in…

Digital IDs Make Systemic Bias Worse

Posted by Denis Kimathi in Citizenship, Namati News

Over 5 million Kenyans from various minority groups have to go through discriminatory processes to get ID cards. This essay in WIRED is on how a marginalized community equipped with the power of law fought back against an exclusionary digital identity system in Kenya and won. The case was not unique; judiciaries of other nations…

5 billion people around the world lack basic access to justice. These organizations are out to change that.

Posted by Alessandra Bergamin in Citizenship, Community Paralegals, Environment, Land & Natural Resources, Legal Empowerment Network, Namati News

In this article on Ensia, Alessandra Bergamin looks at how legal empowerment advocates are helping disenfranchised people fight pollution, gain access to clean water and sanitation, protect land rights and more, by sharing the knowledge and skills needed to exercise basic rights. The article highlights the work of these organizations: Namati Microjustice4All EarthRights International Natural…

New Handbook for Environment Justice Practitioners in India

Posted by Namati in Community Paralegals, Environment, Land & Natural Resources, Resources & Research

Handbook on Legal and Administrative Remedies for Community Level Environment Justice Practitioners in India   The Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Program has produced an indispensable new handbook that helps environment justice practitioners in India to identify and use appropriate legal clauses and institutional routes in their work. Environment justice practitioners, or grassroots environment paralegals,…

Groundtruthing – A Journey from Law to Environmental Justice

Posted by Vivek Trivedi in General

“The community actually said that the ‘air is so bad and the water is so bad that we can neither cook nor make tea.’” This line, sobering in its daily reality, was delivered at a recent webinar entitled Building Evidence for Justice – Groundtruthing Environmental Compliance, by Kanchi Kohli, Legal Research Director at the CPR-Namati…

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…

Community Paralegals and the Legal Empowerment Approach to Statelessness

Posted by Laura Goodwin in Citizenship

Mohammad Javed is an Urdu-speaking entrepreneur living in the middle of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Looking to grow his business, Mohammad decided to travel to India to start importing spare auto-rickshaw parts for his own repairs and to sell to others. Yet Mohammad was unsure of the process through which he could obtain…

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…