Regional Legal Empowerment Initiatives: East and Horn of Africa Paralegal Forum

In July 2019, over 30 paralegals from Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Somalia and Uganda as well as various community justice experts convened in Nairobi, Kenya to advocate for the critical role and contribution that paralegal support networks play in raising legal awareness and supporting access to justice for all in the East and Horn of Africa region.

The discussions revolved around the need to:

  • recognize the role of paralegals in promoting access to justice in local communities;
  • strengthen the capacity of existing paralegal support networks at both national and regional level
  • promote the adoption of adequate policy and legislation, international best practices and practical approaches
  • strengthen the linkages between formal and alternative justice systems in promoting equal access to justice.

In this summit, a declaration was adopted containing 10 resolutions to promote and enhance paralegals’ capacity to help the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in local communities to access justice. See the 10 resolutions below.

It is at this Paralegal Summit that delegates selected Legal Services Facility ( LSF) from Tanzania to lead in the implementation of the forum resolutions in the East and Horn of Africa region for the next 2 years.

See full report here.

Next steps

East and Horn of Africa Paralegal Forum Technical Meeting, 27th - 29th November, 2019 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This strategy meeting focuses on how to implement the 10 resolutions made at the East and Horn of Africa Paralegal Summit. In this meeting paralegal support networks from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania , Puntland and South Sudan will be present. There are plans to expand the technical committee to include representation from Rwanda and Burundi.

Stay informed

If you are a paralegal or a paralegal support group, please keep in touch in this topic to know how we could collaborate in building a strong regional movement. Feel free to also use the #eastafrica #hornofafrica #regionalmovements tags when posting about regional news and activities.

@Lulungw @JulieWayua @Sylvia @Mukasa


Very nice. How to participate if you did not attend the first session that was held at Nairobi?


Hi @alihaji! You are doing it right now. :slight_smile: Joining this topic is a great way to participate. :seedling: As @AimeeOngeso writes:


Thanks for asking @alihaji. I shall be in a better position to advise with concrete steps after the regional technical meeting scheduled for November 27th - 30th. We are looking forward to having you on board. In the meantime I can also put you in touch with the Legal Services Facility through @Lulungw since they will be leading the region for the next 2 years.


Thanks so much@Aimee Ongeso. I am waiting for the next step, I am glad to know more since now I am working to Legal Aid Department of Zanzibar-Tanzania that is very interesting to see our Paralegals networks and organizations are involved.


Exactly, I will participate fully to the discussion@TobiasEigen


Please, I need to know those 10 resolutions made at the meeting


East and Horn of Africa Nairobi Declaration on Access to Justice through Paralegal Interventions 22nd – 24th July 2019 Nairobi, Kenya

Conference Resolutions

The Delegates to the Conference resolve to-

  • Advocate for the establishment of appropriate policy, legislative and administrative frameworks for effective establishment, recognition and administration of paralegal support networks in the respective member countries and in the region.

  • Establish an integrated information management system that facilitates sharing, knowledge transfer, storage, archiving and curation of information, cases and experiences among paralegals and paralegal support networks.

  • Cooperate and collaborate in the promotion of access to justice and the rule of law in the region and, in particular, support the establishment of peer-to-peer learning among paralegals and paralegal support Networks in order to realize a culture of justice.

  • Cooperate and collaborate in capacity building for paralegals and paralegal support networks through, training, mentorship, exchange programs and conferences at the national and regional levels.

  • Advocate for the adoption of minimum practice standards and international best practices for the training and regulation of paralegal service delivery models, and for accreditation of paralegals and legal aid providers in the respective member states.

  • Establish strategic partnerships for the promotion of appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms, including community and traditional dispute mechanisms that build effective linkages with the conventional judicial systems.

  • Adopt innovative measures to promote access to justice for special interest groups, including women, children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, vulnerable and marginalised groups, through public awareness education, and appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms.

  • Develop strategic partnerships for sustainable resource mobilization in member countries and in the region.

  • Advocate for the entrenchment of Paralegalism at the East African Community (EAC) Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), South Africa Development Community (SADC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Africa Union levels

  • Establish an award scheme at the national and regional level for outstanding service delivery in the promotion of access to justice and the rule of law by individual paralegals and paralegal support networks.


thanks very much for sharing . I am very interested with these resolutions, these will be the cornerstone towards Paralegals development and recognition across Africa and world at large. I would love to see establishment of strong relationship between Paralegals and other legal aid providers, Paralegals and concept of the employment opportunities. I will take all of the resolutions into accounts and share to Paralegals in my region.


I would like to participate. I am in Mombasa, Kenya.


Great! Glad to have you on board, @MaulidMwinyikai! Can you introduce yourself here and tell us about you work and what you’d like to partner with others on?


@tobiaseigen @AimeeOngeso i am an Environmentalist as an organization we advocate on Environmental issues and justice. My community has been oppressed on issues concerning the Mtongwe Ferry and closure of community property we have been following up on it and we achieved it without paralegal skills. We would like to partner with other organizations to bring justice while we are given skills.


Good morning everyone, I hope you have a nice weekend. What are the most common issues which are the paralegals in East and Horn of Africa Paralegal Forum are dealing with? I would like to share with my contacts in Canada your experience. Thank you very much for your time. Alexandar


Thank you for your response @MaulidMwinyikai. I will be able to get back to you with more concrete steps after the technical meeting in Tanzania this week. It is our intention to engage robustly with groups like yours.


Good morning, I am impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of the community paralegals in Eastern Africa and in the Horn of Africa. How are they trained? Is the formal legal education required in order to become a community paralegal? I find the idea of creating a common information system very helpful. Probably you will be able to exchange information between the countries in the region. Have a great day. Alexandar


HI Alexandar, thank you for your useful feedback.

The requirements to being a community based paralegal in the East and Horn of Africa is dependent upon the country. In general, one should at least be able to read and write but the requirements are not so stringent as to lock out resourceful community based persons who understand local dynamics and how to navigate different types of conflict within their respective contexts. In my experience, formal education is secondary to a deep knowledge , understanding ,and commitment to the justice needs of communities. These are values not necessarily acquired through formal education.

Some countries such as Kenya and Tanzania have in place legal aid laws that recognise the role of community based paralegals. The law is important as it awards the paralegals some form of benefit, protection and validation. The law also provides for standard training of paralegals. In Kenya, the National Legal Aid Service is still working on a curriculum that will be used to train community based paralegals. This will be done in consultation with civil society organisations that have for years been training paralegals even without a legal framework.

But this is not to say that situation in all the countries in the East and Horn of Africa is the same. Kenya and Tanzania , while not perfect , have relatively stable democracies and functioning institutions that carve out a recognised space for community based paralegals to operate. The situation in South Sudan or Somalia is different given that these are post - conflict states ( some would argue, in -conflict states).

By coming together as a region , we embrace the legal empowerment approach in our varied contexts and realise that we can still all learn from each and offer support and guidance where needed and/ or applicable. One common understanding however is that the community based paralegals , no matter the context , is crucial in promoting access to justice.


Hi what a perfect idea, please how can nomadic communities paralegals participate in future activities? Thanks and keep it up


Hi Billow. Thank you for your feedback. I will be able to share with you how we can all collaborate in this initiative in the coming weeks as we develop the work plan for the region. We will consult you and your ideas will be more than welcome.


I am waiting for the work plan.

Great work there @Namati, @Uganet we have newly recruited paralegals and we would love to participate in this forum considering it isnt far from us. Regards


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