Network News: Strategic Thinking for 2016

Dear all: As we look to a new year, I wanted to share some of the key outcomes from recent meetings of our network’s advisory bodies. Their advice to the network, in combination with the regular input and feedback of network members like you, will help shape our priorities and activities in 2016.

  • Our International Advisory Council has, over the years, offered strategic guidance and played an ambassadorial role for our movement. Last September, they convened to reflect on what we’ve accomplished with the Sustainable Development Goals. The inclusion of an access to justice goal was a tremendous victory for our community and the culmination of years of advocacy by the IAC and the Network. Nevertheless, the IAC noted that there much work remains to be done. They advised us to make a special effort to ensure that the agenda is truly inclusive. Ordinary people and civil society must play a role in implementing and monitoring the SDGs at home — particularly the targets relating to legal empowerment, which risk being overlooked in an otherwise very full agenda. Grassroots efforts must receive the support needed to achieve the goals, and local experience should continue to feed into global discourse.

  • Our Network Guidance Committee held their biannual meeting in September. The NGC is composed of accomplished legal empowerment practitioners who shape the direction of the Global Network. The NGC debated key priority areas for the network, generating a list of options that we will share with network members soon for feedback and input. Other topics of discussion included: the opportunities for collective advocacy around greater financing and recognition for legal empowerment practitioners; initiation of a “core membership” status with exclusive benefits and responsibilities for active members; options for branding and naming the network to enhance our visibility; and protocols for bringing in and retiring members of the NGC. Expect news on all these fronts as the new year rolls around.

  • The Network Guidance Committee also agreed that our community should promote legal empowerment across a greater variety of global and multilateral platforms. One particular opportunity stands out: the Open Government Partnership (OGP) - an international platform of 69 member countries that publish voluntary commitments to make their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. NGC members @marlonmanuel and @nomboniso and I traveled to the annual OGP Summit in October to get a sense of how network members might use the platform to secure greater funding and political support for legal empowerment work in our home countries. We uncovered a few interesting ways forward, including a potential opportunity to create a “justice working group” to help OGP countries add strong justice-related commitments to their “national action plans.” For example, countries could commit to recognizing the role of community paralegals and budgeting for their services. If any network member hails from an OGP country, please feel free to reach out to me as we develop a strategy for the year. The list of countries is here. Again, we will be sharing more news on this as we go.

These are just a few of the exciting strategic developments that have evolved over the past few months. As always, your ideas, comments, concerns, and encouragements are warmly welcome. We in the Namati Network team are doing our best to support our community in building a network that reflects everyone’s collective interests and needs. The more thoughts you share, the more informed our strategy and the stronger our movement will be.

Happy New Year!