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Namati’s blog highlights the perspectives and ongoing work of leading practitioners and scholars in the field of legal empowerment. Legal empowerment explores ways of putting law and government into people’s hands – an ambition underpinning efforts to advance justice throughout the world, whether under the banner of human rights, international development, access to justice, governance and accountability, or citizen’s participation.

No Consent: The Case of Nimiyama Chiefdom in Sierra Leone

Posted by on July 22, 2014


Innovative Legal Remedies to Protect
Land Rights in Sierra Leone

By Karima Tawfik

For one woman in Nimiyama Chiefdom in eastern Sierra Leone, the first sign of trouble came when she went into her family’s fields to brush for planting and was told to leave immediately because the land had been “sold.” For another landowner, it was when a group of people entered and surveyed his family lands without his consent – and just told him to take the issue up with his chief. And for many, it was the seven-foot poles erected in their backyards, signaling that their lands are in the process of being handed over to a foreign company.

In July 2014, Namati took up the case of landowning families in Nimiyama Chiefdom in Kono District, a district known for diamond-rich soils and for being a main battleground during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war. While diamond operations continue, new enterprises entering Kono are coming for agribusiness. In Nimiyama’s case, a Chinese company has recently concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with local chiefs for a large-scale rubber operation. As one community activist remarked: “It was diamonds in the past, now it is rubber.”

At the request of Nimiyama … More »

Categories: Community Land Protection, Land & Natural Resources, Legal Aid 2.0, Poverty

The case for Justice in Development

Posted by on June 30, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 14.36.21

Inclusion of Justice in the Post 2015 Development Goals
By Faustina Pereira, BRAC

This blog post is adapted from a keynote address given by Dr. Pereira at the WANA Forum in Amman, Jordan in June 2014.

This is an important global moment. Just last month the Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly released its zero draft of goals and targets on Sustainable Development for the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The Open Working Group (OWG) is tasked with preparing a proposal on the Sustainable Development Goals to be attained by 2030, which are to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which will end in 2015.

What shape the SDGs will finally take will be decided in just a year from now. There is a high level of advocacy at global and national levels in favour of competing development imperatives for inclusion as development goals. Legal Empowerment advocates have been working very hard over the last two years to make the argument for inclusion of Justice, Rule of Law and Legal Empowerment as a separate goal in the post 2015 Development Goals.

Some of these advocacy efforts have paid off. Last year we saw that the Report of the High … More »

Categories: General Legal Empowerment, Post-2015 MDGs, Poverty

BLOG: “Stop Making Excuses” – Justice, post-2015 and the Arab World

Posted by on May 8, 2014


This is an extract of a speech given by HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan to a meeting of UN Ambassadors from the Middle East and North Africa in spring 2014. Prince Hassan was a member of the Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor and is a signatory to the Justice 2015 Open Letter to the UN.

An Arabic version of the Open Letter can be downloaded here.

By HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan

Poverty reduction cannot merely be achieved through economic growth and improved trade alone.  As the work of the Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor has consistently shown for the last decade, there are strong links between poverty, injustice and legal exclusion.

Today, over 4 billion people in the world are excluded from the legal system. This means that over half of the world’s population is not legally empowered to claim access to the most basic human rights that many of us take for granted – be it property rights, the right to earning a guaranteed minimum wage or the right to clean drinking water.

In the past, the relationship between law and development was narrowly focused on the law … More »

Categories: General Legal Empowerment, Post-2015 MDGs, Poverty

Legal empowerment works: the evidence

Posted by on May 2, 2014

Teaching people about their legal rights was the most commonly studied approach.

Download the full Legal Empowerment Evidence Review.

Commentary on the Evidence Review by Professor Maurits Barendrecht.

By Laura Goodwin 

Evidence matters. Despite a growing field of practice and many examples of success, there has been no comprehensive understanding of what can be achieved when people are empowered to understand and use the law. Until now.

In “What do we know about legal empowerment? Mapping the Evidence,” Vivek Maru, Namati’s CEO, and I compile and analyse all the available evidence on how legal empowerment works. This is the first review of its kind.

There is substantial information on the impact of civil society-led legal empowerment programs. We found 199 studies, uncovered through online research, expert interviews, and contributions from the Global Legal Empowerment Network. The evidence includes interventions on every major continent and draws from a range of research methods such as surveys, interviews, and case studies.

Our main finding is that legal empowerment, in all its myriad forms and wide range of contexts, works. In total, 97 per cent of the studies reported at least one positive change. Even programs that failed to make the changes they were designed for had other, unexpected positive effects on communities, individuals and the … More »

Categories: General Legal Empowerment

Syria: From Corrupt State Institutions to the Economy of Violence

Posted by on March 14, 2014


An interview with Zaki Mehchy of the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR)

Zaki Mehchy is a co-founder of the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR), an NGO established in Damascus in 2011 to study poverty. Its work has been overtaken by the conflict that has engulfed his country. Zaki attended Namati’s regional meeting of legal empowerment practitioners in Amman, Jordan.

AMMAN – “We are now focusing on studies relating to the Syrian crisis and we are producing a regular report on the impact of the crisis in terms of the economic impact, the loss on GDP as well as the loss on social side, such as the loss in social capital, the loss in human capital.

By 2013 the Syrian economy had lost about $85 billion USD.  This is just the direct economic cost.  We also have some indicators about the social costs of the conflict, for example, in terms of its Human Development Index, Syria has lost 35 years of development achievements.  We have a 6.7 million people who have been newly thrown into poverty.  Of course in addition to this is the more tragic loss. The loss of life – so far over 100,000 people have died … More »

Categories: Accountability of Essential Services, Accountability of Essential Services, General Legal Empowerment

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