Welcome to our newsfeed! Here you will find updates about our organization’s activities, as well as new features that arise on our continually expanding website. Check out our blog for more in-depth observations about legal empowerment from leading scholars and practitioners.
Participants at the International Land Coalition’s Global Land Forum in Antigua, Guatemala, adopted the Antigua Declaration. The statement calls for a recognition of the role land plays within communities, and outlines a “strong international commitment to land rights for indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and women.”
Namati, The United Nations Development Programme, The Justice Center for Legal Aid, and the Open Society Justice Initiative are co-hosting a meeting for civil society organizations in the Middle East and North Africa. This meeting will offer legal empowerment practitioners the chance to workshop challenges facing their programs, learn from each other about diverse legal empowerment strategies employed throughout the region, and develop the basis for an ongoing, supportive network of legal empowerment actors. Applications are due May 6.
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) have released a new report exploring how legal empowerment approaches equip citizens and local communities to hold public institutions and private companies accountable in large-scale land deals.
In March, in Bellagio, Italy, Namati and a diverse group of development, conservation and human rights organizations met to develop a common framework for enhancing global and national actions to support community land rights, and to identify opportunities for greater coordination among leading civil society organizations.
Drawing on Oakland Institute research, Anuradha Mittal and Nickolas Johnson highlight several cases of large-scale land investment by multinational companies in Africa, including Addax Bioenergy in Sierra Leone. They argue that without significant changes in government policies and accountability, continued land grabbing on the continent will lead to ‘mass social unrest’ and long-term consequences.
In a speech on Monday, Michael Higgens, President of Ireland, emphasized the importance of protecting community land and resources to prevent hunger in the context of increased acquisition by elites. “This means overcoming perceived constraints and ensuring that political processes towards the solutions are accountable, participative and courageous,” he said.
James Goldston, Executive Director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, argues: “Failure to incorporate the rule of law into the post-2015 MDGs would send an unacceptable message: that states cannot muster the political capital needed to change course. As the idea of the rule of law gains currency around the world, political leaders will have to do better.”
Namati’s Gaurav Madan and SDI’s Ali Kaba argue that while the Liberian Land Commission has made much progress toward “a more just and equitable land tenure system,” further efforts need to be made to protect the rights of women. Provisions must “respect local traditions and customs, while asserting the rights of women to own, inherit, and govern land,” they say.
“Challenging unfair power structures that entrench inequalities is critical for positive change in people’s lives,” says a new report from the Institute for Development Studies. The study emerges as high-level meetings on the Post-2015 development agenda continue in Bali.
Major reforms are necessary to ensure that investment projects lead to sustainable, inclusive development in Sierra Leone. Namati’s Sonkita Conteh and Vivek Maru argue that President Koroma can make these happen, and during the West African leader’s visit to Washington this Thursday, Obama should urge him to do so.
Amid increased land development, local communities are losing access to essential shared resources like water. According to new research, in places like Kenya’s Tana Delta region, rupture of customary governance arrangements – and ignoring the “complex social realities” that guide cooperative resource use – could lead to violence.
As high-level talks continue in Bali, Paul Ladd, head of the post-2015 team at UNDP, analyzes results from the My World call for global development priorities and finds that people want help holding “their governments to account.” If a new agreement doesn’t emphasize good governance, he says, “it won’t have fully met their aspirations for a roadmap to a better future.”
Erna Witoelar, former UN Special Ambassador for MDGs in Asia Pacific, argues in the Jakarta Post that access to justice and good governance is “essential to ensuring that progress is made on other fundamental development goals, such as promoting gender equality and ensuring environmental sustainability.”
Over the weekend, George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations, argued before high-level decision-makers that justice is essential to combat the intractable issues that place and keep people in poverty. “If justice is included in the next development goals, success will be assured,” he said.