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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.

The Good and the Bad of Environmental Law Reform in India

Posted by on December 2, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 15.15.27

In India, a High Level Committee (HLC) constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has submitted its report to the environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, following its review of six of India’s major environmental laws. Some of the laws date back to the 1920s and the report offered an opportunity to strengthen the protection of India’s environment and protect the communities that rely on it for their livelihoods.

When the Committee was set up, Namati and its partner, the Centre for Policy Research,  submitted a set of issues that the Committee needed to address. We also presented to the Committee a Framework of Principles for Environment Law Reform that could guide the reform process.

The report has become public and Namati’s Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli have written this blog post analysing its likely impact.




By Manju Menon & Kanchi Kohli

The High Level Committee (HLC) constituted by India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has submitted its report to the environment minister Prakash Javadekar, following its review of six of India’s major environment laws. The committee set up on 29 August, 2014 and headed by former cabinet secretary, Shri T.S.R. Subramanian had been granted an extended tenure ending 28 November … More »

Categories: Environmental Justice Program, Land & Natural Resources

At work with the paralegals of Bangladesh

Posted by on September 12, 2014

At the Government registration office.

A Citizenship Sea Change for the Urdu-Speaking Minority in Bangladesh


(Click on all images to expand)

By Bremen Donovan

On a normal day, fourteen years ago, Farzana Naz was six months pregnant. Her husband left for work and never returned. Farzana was left to raise two children on her own. She was not much older than a child herself.

Today, I am sitting in her living room, which is also her kitchen and her bedroom. Farzana lives in Staff Camp, one of the 66 so-called ‘camps for stranded Pakistanis’ in Bangladesh, and home to about 200 families. It is a ‘building camp,’ converted from offices abandoned by a government ministry in the early 1970’s, shortly after Bangladesh’s bloody birth.

In Farzana Naz’s room, as in many of the other building camps in Dhaka, you experience the sensation that the floor may simply crumble under your feet any moment. Gaps in the walls and under the stairways expose rusted structural rebar and rotting concrete. Electrical lines hang in webs above the hallways and are perilously frayed.   A young resident explains that when stones fall, families pool money to purchase wet cement to simply patch the spot.

There are about 300,000 … More »

Categories: Paralegals, Poverty, Realizing Citizenship Rights, Women's Empowerment

Taking Stock of the Justice 2015 Campaign

Posted by on August 25, 2014

UN Photos 15

By Abigail Moy

With the 69th Session of the UN general Assembly approaching, it’s a good time to reflect on the progress of our Justice 2015 campaign.

Last month, the 13th and final meeting of the Open Working Group (OWG) on the Sustainable Development Goals concluded. The OWG issued its proposal in a final Outcome Document. The proposal  will now be incorporated into the Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report, which is due in November and will also serve as an input to future intergovernmental negotiations.

This means that there remains time and opportunity to influence the language and content of the post-2015 agenda. The OWG’s proposal reflects the months of intergovernmental debate, but many of its contents remain hotly contested.  As we prepare for the next round of negotiations, let’s take a moment to compare the original ‘asks’ that civil society made in our Open Letter to the UN with the language of the OWG final proposal. Below, I make the comparison and add a brief assessment of how things currently stand.… More »

 Civil Society’s Illustrative Target #1: 


 Open Working Group Target #16.10:

Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national

Categories: General Legal Empowerment, Post-2015 MDGs

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

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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

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