[Featured Resource] Legal Empowerment and Community Lawyering in Latin America

This week’s featured resource is Empoderamiento Jurídico y Abogacía Comunitaria en Latinoamérica: Experiencias de Acceso a la Justicia desde la Comunidad (Legal Empowerment and Community Lawyering in Latin America: Community-based Access to Justice Experiences), which was launched on November 5 during the Congreso Internacional Derecho y Comunidades (Law and Communities International Conference) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It is the first regional publication of this scope that gathers experiences, analysis, methodologies, strategies, learnings and recommendations on the situation of access to justice in Latin America, as well as the legal empowerment and community lawyering practices that are being developed in the region.

What’s the context of the publication?

The book is part of regional work undertaken by a broad group of Latin American Network members and focused on generating knowledge, learnings and evidence about community-based legal empowerment and community lawyering experiences that have been implemented in the region for decades.

This publication is a product of our community’s effort to engage in deeper regional learning and sharing. Drawn from the experiences of our network members, it is a rich exploration of legal empowerment strategies developed in Latin America across five key themes: habitat and right to the city, right to health, environmental justice, the rights of the migrant population, and gender and diversity. It offers practical insight on how to address some of the world’s most urgent and intractable justice challenges. In so doing, it serves as an invaluable contribution to the field.

Who participated?

More than 25 authors from a multiplicity of organizations in the region that work in different thematic agendas but share the way in which they understand access to justice, and the goal to help people to know, use and shape the law.

Including more than 20 members of the Global Legal Empowerment Network! @abigailmoy @anaraquel @Belenlegui @deniseddora @felipemesel @burdiles @JuanCarlos @fromero @julietamarotta @KateFlatley @laulacayo @liviazr @luanapereiradc @lucianabercovich @manolomorales @echegoyemberry2014 @MarianPater @pablovitale @martaalmela @RenataEscudero @Construir @SebastianPilo @viniciosandoval @vivekmaru @fromero

What does this publication include?

  • 5 thematic areas that correspond to the priority areas identified by the members of Global Legal Empowerment Network in the region: habitat and right to the city, right to health, environmental justice, the rights of the migrant population, and gender and diversity.
  • 6 analysis papers about the situation of access to justice in Latin America.
  • 13 case studies that give an account of practices that are being developed by organizations in the region, as well as experiences of communities in their fight to demand the protection and guarantee of their rights.
  • The Declaración de Villa Inflamable por el acceso a la justicia para todas/os y el empoderamiento jurídico (Villa Inflamable Declaration for access to justice for all and legal empowerment), which includes 26 exhortations to public and private authorities, as well as international organisms, to guarantee access to justice for all. More than 20 organizations in the region have acceded to it.

More about what you can find in Empoderamiento Jurídico y Abogacía Comunitaria en Latinoamérica: Experiencias de Acceso a la Justicia desde la Comunidad

You’ll find stories of slum dwellers defending their right to access basic services and better living conditions; a grassroots justice defender overcoming harassment for helping her community to hold its healthcare providers accountable; women whose legal empowerment journeys lead them from being victims of domestic violence to agents of change; indigenous communities using legal mechanisms to protect fragile ecosystems endangered by investment projects, and more.

Together, these cases offer a glimpse into the collective human experience at the heart of our work. They give us hope that our ultimate goal is achievable: that no matter the obstacles, we can make justice a reality for all. May the stories of courage and innovation in these pages pave a path for many others to follow.

You can access this resource in our library at the following link:

This resource is in Spanish, but we are working on having part of this publication translated into English by next year. For that, we would love to hear from you:

What would you be most interested in?

  • The thematic articles about the situation of access to justice in Latin America (which include information about barriers on access to justice and briefly map different strategies that are being developed by organizations)
  • The case studies that outline specific legal empowerment experiences, strategies and learnings
  • Both the articles and the case studies

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Is there a thematic area that you have a particular interest in and would like to know more about the specific thematic legal empowerment experiences in Latin America?

  • Habitat and right to the city
  • Right to health
  • Environmental justice
  • Rights of the migrant population
  • Gender and diversity

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Which legal empowerment elements would you like to know more on how organizations and communities in Latin America are working? For example, the use of strategic litigation in the defense of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR); citizen monitoring of public services; the articulation with local and indigenous authorities; paralegal programs; the use of new technologies in legal empowerment efforts; etc. Let us know by commenting below!

As always, please let us know your thoughts on this resource by commenting below.


The Featured Resource is a short profile of a key resource found in the resource library of the Global Legal Empowerment Network. These resources can be older or brand new, but they all touch on important themes within legal empowerment. If you have a resource you would like to profile with the network, upload it directly at this link or email it to community@namati.org

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From Colombia, @freddyilsa, who participated in the Law and Communities International Conference, shared on Twitter some reflections about the publication. I shared them with the rest of the members of the Global Legal Empowerment Network through this post:

Congratulations to the authors of the text for such important work, which is a mapping of the actions that are currently being developed by NGOs in our region, Latin America. Here I leave 3 points regarding the book’s contributions to the law and legal profession world:

  1. It gives an account of the work that is being done by NGOs in the region, and of them as a space for student apprenticeships/practices and learning regarding the professional exercise not guided by the client-lawyer relationship nor by the free of charge or pro bono legal advice logic
  2. The articles are introduced as reflections and experiences that can contribute to the legislation, doctrine and jurisprudence regarding human rights, the social state of law, and public policies
  3. The texts contribute to socio-legal studies and interdisciplinary approaches to law

Again my recognition to those that participate in the book and those who coordinated such important work.

Thank you @freddyilsa for your reflections!

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Very good resource. Thanks for sharing

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The event and the publication are two important steps toward people-centered justice.

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