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Vivek Maru


United States


Member Since:
Nov 20, 2011

Last Seen:
Feb 13, 2020

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Contributed Resources:

Empoderamiento jurídico y abogacía comunitaria en Latinoamérica: experiencias de acceso a la justicia desde la comunidad

Abigail Moy, Alejandra Vania Cajas Ulloa, Ana Raquel Aquino, Belén Leguizamón, Denise Dora, Felipe Mesel, Felipe Romero Bartolo, Fernanda Marchese, Gabriela Burdiles Perucci, Juan Carlos Carrillo Fuentes, Julieta Marotta, Kate Flatley, Laura Lacayo Espinoza, Lívia Zanatta Ribeiro, Luana Pereira Da Costa, Luciana Bercovich, Manolo Morales, María Natalia Echegoyemberry, Mariana Paterlini, Mariano G. Valentini, Marta Almela Menjón, Pablo Vitale, Renata Brandão Escudero, Robin Schmid, Susana Saavedra, Sebastián Pilo, Vinicio Sandoval, Vivek Maru

Esta publicación es producto del esfuerzo de la comunidad de la Red Global de Empoderamiento Jurídico por adentrarse en aprendizajes e intercambios más profundos a nivel regional. Partiendo de las experiencias de los miembros de nuestra red, las siguientes páginas representan una rica exploración de las estrategias de empoderamiento jurídico desarrolladas en América Latina a...

The Case to Fund and Protect Grassroots Justice Defenders

Namati (on behalf of the Justice For All campaign)

This policy brief offers recommendations for policymakers, donors, and multilateral institutions on how to finance and protect the grassroots justice defenders who provide essential legal support to communities. In every region of the world, these champions of legal empowerment—who mostly hail from civil society—are helping people to know, use, and shape the law. Grassroots justice...

Justice for All: The report of the Task Force on Justice

The Pathfinders Task Force on Justice

At the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development lies a vision of a “just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met.” Justice is a thread that runs through all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Without increased justice, the world will not be able...

The FTAA, Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment, and Human Rights

Vivek Maru

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 WTO members, which states that countries can bypass patents in medical emergencies. The paper argues that countries in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) should resist pressure from...

Legal Power to the People

Vivek Maru

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 endeavors since World War II: the movement for human rights and the quest for development. The essay begins at Ramlila Grounds, the site of some of the largest protests in India’s recent history, and closes with a call for a global legal empowerment fund.

For the Sake of Fairness: Justice in Development

Vivek Maru

This piece originally appeared on the World Bank Governance for Development blog. Vivek Maru argues that four frontiers necessary for justice reform to move forward: building a stronger evidence base; elaborating a context-responsive, problem solving approach; improving grievance redress for services like health, education, and water; and synthesizing social accountability and legal empowerment.

Akbar, Birbal, and a South Asia Regional Meeting on Monitoring and Evaluating Legal Empowerment

Vivek Maru

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. The gathering brought together more than 50 people from all over the region, representing grassroots groups, development agencies, governments, and evaluation experts. Namati CEO Vivek Maru began the meeting with a story about Akbar and Birbal, a Mughal emperor and his trusted adviser.

Law and disorder: rough justice rules in the developing world

Vivek Maru

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 are grievously far from what justice demands. Citing the five principles of the Justice 2015 campaign, Maru calls for a comprehensive development framework with justice at its heart.

Transforming Policy into Justice: The Role of Health Advocates in Mozambique

Ellie Feinglass, Nadja Gomes, Vivek Maru

Despite expanding policy commitments in many poor countries, health care is often a failure at the point of delivery. Lack of information, poor enforcement, and power dynamics prevent those whose rights have been violated from pursuing redress. In Mozambique, grassroots health advocates work to address this gap between policy and reality by blending approaches known...

Community-Based Paralegals: A Practitioner’s Guide (Burmese language version)

Open Society Justice Initiative

Community-Based Paralegals: A Practitioner’s Guide should be useful for anyone who wants to start a new paralegal program, improve an existing one, or learn more about paralegals and the legal empowerment of the poor. This version of the Guide is in Burmese and other language versions are available on the original English language version here....

What do we know about legal empowerment? Mapping the Evidence

Laura Goodwin, Vivek Maru

For the first time we review here all available evidence on civil society-led legal empowerment efforts, defined as those that seek to increase the capacity of people to exercise their rights and to participate in processes of governing. To our knowledge this is the first review of its kind. There is substantial evidence available on...

Legal Empowerment and the Land Rush: Three Struggles

Vivek Maru

This chapter focuses on community rights to land and natural resources, arguably the greatest rule of law challenge of our time. It explores three struggles in particular: communities in Liberia, Uganda, and Mozambique documenting customary land claims; rural land owners in Sierra Leone renegotiating an inequitable agreement with a large agribusiness project; and coastal communities in Kutch, India, seeking the enforcement of environmental law against a massive coal plant and port.

Only the Law Can Restrain Trump

Vivek Maru

Populists keep winning because the system really is rigged. Reversing the global tide of authoritarian nativism requires making legal systems work for everyone. This resource is an article in the March 2017 issue of Foreign Policy by Namati CEO, Vivek Maru, where he discusses providing access to justice through financing of paralegals and legal empowerment in...

Access to Justice For All? Now That Would be a Measurably Good Thing

Stacey Cram, Vivek Maru

This article written by Stacey Cram and Vivek Maru discusses the importance of indicators when assessing the progress of goal 16 of the SDGs, which commits to "access to justice for all".

The Challenges of African Legal Dualism: An Experiment in Sierra Leone

Vivek Maru

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.

Framing Local Conflict and Justice in Bangladesh

Maitreyi Bordia Das, Vivek Maru

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 improve on shalish, and a somewhat less explored provision for gram adalat or village courts. Based on a nationally representative survey, qualitative evidence from focus groups, and a telephone survey...

Ravaging the Vulnerable: Abuses Against Persons at High Risk of HIV Infection in Bangladesh

Vivek Maru, Human Rights Watch

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 this 51-page report, Human Rights Watch documents rapes, gang-rapes, beatings and abductions by both police officers and powerful criminals known as mastans. Their targets — sex workers, men who have...

Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment: A Review of World Bank Practice

Vivek Maru

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 efforts are grouped here into six categories: court reforms, legal aid, information dissemination and education, alternative dispute resolution, public sector accountability, and research. The paper is motivated in part by recent discussions of ‘legal empowerment’; a thread of inquiry that runs through the review is: how do World Bank efforts to increase access to justice affect the agency of poor people? The paper concludes with insights and recommendations that emerge from the Bank's experience.

A Letter to Rio+20: Sustainable Development Isn’t Possible Without Land Rights

Vivek Maru, Andy White

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 it stands now, these rights are ommitted from the Rio+20 Conference Resolution, putting billions of vulnerable people further at risk.

What a Paralegal in Sierra Leone Needs to Know

Vivek Maru, Simeon Koroma

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 crime, contracts, and tort; paralegal skills, including mediation, advocacy, and community education; and government policy and procedure, in areas like agriculture, mining, and healthcare. Here, Timap co-founders Vivek Maru and Simeon Koroma discuss how the manual came about and why it is important for Sierra Leone now.

Timap for Justice: A Paralegal Approach to Justice Services in Sierra Leone

Vivek Maru

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 of African and other developing societies. They articulate a broad and inclusive definition of legal aid, call on governments, in partnership with civil society, to provide legal aid at all stages in the criminal justice process, to recognise the role of informal means of conflict resolution, including traditional forums, to diversify legal aid service providers, and to encourge legal empowerment of all citizens. The book also contains the Lilongwe Declaration on Accessing Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice System in Africa and the Lilongwe Plan of Action, as well as excerpts from other key international declarations and guidelines pertaining to the treatment of ordinary people caught up in the criminal justice system. Vivek Maru's chapter discusses Timap for Justice, and the organization's efforts to provide justice services in Sierra Leone through paralegals.

Poetic Meets Tragic: Tagore in the Light of Max Weber

Vivek Maru, Shilpa Jain

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 Shiksha.  Written by Shilpa Jain.  Vivek Maru’s contribution: pp85-86.

Obama Meets Koroma: Time to Talk Land Rights

Vivek Maru, Sonkita Conteh

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 Koroma can make these happen, and during the West African leader’s visit to Washington, Obama should urge him to do so.

New Directions in Justice Reform

Daniel Adler, Lisa Bhansali, Christina Biebesheimer, James A. Brumby, Anupama Dokeniya, William Dorotinsky, Varun Gauri, Guenter Heidenhof, Hans Jurgen Gruss, Nick Manning, Alexandre Marc, Vivek Maru, Richard Messick, Phillip Keefer, Paul Prettitore, Graham Teskey, David Varela

New Directions in Justice Reform constitutes the Bank’s first institution-wide approach to justice reform, and as such introduces the revised approach to justice reform to which the Bank is committed under its Updated GAC Strategy.

Law for the Global Poor

Vivek Maru, Karen Tse

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 laws at the country level. But their assertion that no human rights organizations or government agencies measure success by their “ability to bring effective law enforcement to local communities in...

From Bribery to Empowerment

Vivek Maru, Margaux Hall

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 the direct legal empowerment of citizens worldwide.

Between Law and Society: Paralegals and the Provision of Justice Services in Sierra Leone and Worldwide

Vivek Maru

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 established of the two—focuses on state institutions, on improving the effectiveness and fairness of the courts, the legislature, the police, the health and education systems, etc. A second set of efforts, sometimes termed legal empowerment, focuses on directly assisting ordinary people, especially the poor, who face justice problems. This Essay argues that the institution of the paralegal offers a promising methodology of legal empowerment that fits between legal education and legal representation, one that maintains a focus on achieving concrete solutions to people’s justice problems but which employs, in addition to litigation, the more flexible, creative tools of social movements.

Allies Unknown: Legal Empowerment and Social Accountability

Vivek Maru

Published in the Journal of Health and Human Rights, 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. Legal empowerment efforts grow out of the tradition of legal aid for the poor; they assist citizens in seeking remedies to breaches of rights. Social accountability interventions employ information and participation to demand fairer, more effective public services. The two approaches share a focus on the interface between communities and local institutions.

Contributed Posts:

New collection of essays on access to justice in the US

The current issue of Daedalus—which is the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences—focuses on access to justice in the US. All the articles are currently available for free download here. See for example this provocative framing essay by Rebecca Sandefur, which draws on years of research by her and others. Dr. Sandefur…

Posted March 19, 2019
Barefoot Lawyers, Communities, and the Earth

The following blog first appeared as part of Article 3 Advisor’s special blog series on climate justice. Check out their site for other blog series on topics ranging from prison to refugees to modern day slavery. The global human rights movement has made extraordinary progress, at least by the letter of the law. Many countries now…

Posted December 12, 2016
With your support, we can walk with even more people toward justice in 2014

In 2013, hundreds of Kenyan Nubians acquired proof of their citizenship for the first time. In Burma, with support from paralegals, thousands of farmers began registering their lands. Communities in Sierra Leone and Mozambique worked to resolve problems in healthcare delivery. We ask you to consider supporting the ongoing efforts of community paralegals around the world.

Posted December 23, 2013
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 endeavors since World War II: the movement for human rights and the quest for development.  The essay begins at Ramlila Grounds, the site of some of the largest protests in…

Posted January 15, 2012
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 endeavors since World War II: the movement for human rights and the quest for development. The essay begins at Ramlila Grounds, the site of some of the largest protests in India’s recent history, and closes with a call for a global legal empowerment fund.

Posted January 9, 2012