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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…

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…

Access to What?

Rebecca Sandefur,

The access-to-justice crisis is bigger than law and lawyers. It is a crisis of exclusion and inequality. Today, access to justice is restricted: only some people, and only some kinds of justice problems, receive lawful resolution. Access is also systematically unequal: some groups–wealthy people and white people, for example–get more access than other groups, like…

Legal Empowerment as Social Entrepreneurship: The KwaZulu-Natal Cases of Bulwer and New Hanover

Fayth Ruffin, Winnie Kubayi Martins,

In this chapter, theoretical foundations of social entrepreneurship and legal empowerment are explored and intersection of these social actions by community based-paralegal practice in rural KwaZulu-Natal examined. Conceptually, integration of social entrepreneurship and legal empowerment innovatively contributes to the broader discourse on self-determined community development and democratic governance. Empirical evidence shows that community-based paralegals generate…

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…

Sustainable Development Goal 16.9: ‘Legal Identity’ Nationality and Statelessness

Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion,

This booklet introduces key concepts that can be adopted by Legal identity practitioners to protect vulnerable and marginalized groups. It also explains flawed identity processes can cause and/ or perpetuate statelessness. Finally, it presents some strategies to help ensure statelessness is effectively addressed through inclusive and human rights based development policies on legal identity If…

Legal Empowerment and Horizontal Inequalities after Conflict

Lars Waldorf,

This resource comes from the Journal of Development Studies, 2019 Vol. 55, No. 3, 437–455. This article explores whether legal empowerment can address horizontal inequalities in post-conflict settings, and, if so, how. It argues that legal empowerment has modest potential to reduce these inequalities. Nevertheless, there are risks that legal empowerment might contribute to a…

Using Legal Empowerment for Labour Rights in India

Rina Agarwala,

This resource comes from the Journal of Development Studies, 2019 Vol. 55, No. 3, 401–419. This paper brings labour back into the literature on legal empowerment against poverty. Employing a historical lens, I outline three waves of legal movements. Each wave is distinguished by its timing, the state-level target, and the actors involved. In all…

Legal Empowerment of the Poor through Property Rights Reform: Tensions and Trade-offs of Land Registration and Titling in Sub-Saharan Africa

Catherine Boone,

This resource comes from the Journal of Development Studies, 2019 Vol. 55, No. 3, 384–400. Land registration and titling in Africa is often advocated as a pro-poor legal empowerment strategy. Advocates have put forth different visions of the substantive goals this is to achieve. Some see registration and titling as a way to protect smallholders’…

The World’s First Book on Community Paralegals

Posted by Namati in Community Paralegals, General, Namati News, Resources & Research

I am thrilled to share a new book with you: Community Paralegals and the Pursuit of Justice. Community paralegals demystify law and empower people to advocate for themselves. They are at the heart of our movement for justice. But they have been largely ignored by scholars and writers. This book starts to fill that void….

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…