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.
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 »
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:
GUARANTEE THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND TO ACCESS GOVERNMENT DATA.
Open Working Group Target #16.10:
Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national
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 »
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 »
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 »