Namati’s Paralegal Approach to Environmental Justice Hailed by UN Expert

The United Nation’s Human Rights Council last year requested the Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment, Mr. John Knox, to identify the best global practices using human rights obligations to inform, support and strengthen environmental policy making, especially in the area of environmental protection. It also requested he prepare a compendium of best practices.

The Independent Expert submitted his compendium of good practices to the Human Rights Council and it has now been made public. The report describes good practices of Governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, corporations and others in the use of human rights obligations relating to the environment.

The report singles out Namati’s paralegal approach as a shining example of civil society efforts in the environmental justice field:

Civil society organizations can also play an important role in facilitating public participation…For example, in Myanmar, Namati and its national partner organisation, the Civil and Political Rights Campaign Group, have trained a corps of more than 30 paralegals to support families to register and protect their land rights. According to Namati, “in just the first 6 months of the program, paralegals handled thousands [of] cases from 150 village tracts located across six states and divisions. The paralegals educate individuals, farmers’ groups, and communities about Myanmar’s legal framework on land and how to complete the administrative processes to register farmland claims.” In India, Namati states that its “community paralegals are supporting local communities to exercise their rights to demand and access information on environmental impact assessments; monitor and report cases of non-compliance with environmental regulations; and to use existing environmental laws to protect their health, livelihoods, and local environment from industrial pollution and ecosystem degradation.

The report can be downloaded from the Namati resource library here.

January 18, 2016 | Namati Author