Financing for legal empowerment is a wicked challenge.
In a recent survey of the Global Legal Empowerment Network, over 35% of respondents said they’ll need to make cuts to survive in the coming year. Thirty-two percent said they may not be able to operate at all due to lack of funds.
Our community is campaigning together to increase financing from philanthropy, from development agencies, and from our domestic governments.
What about the private sector? Companies create jobs but they also cause some of the injustice that makes legal empowerment necessary. Some agriculture companies grab land from small farmers. Some mines poison people’s land and water.
Should we ask the private sector to help finance legal empowerment? Could we do so without compromising our independence? We’d like to hear from you.
Fisher people from Kutch, India recently tried to sue the World Bank in U.S. court because a massive coal plant financed by the World Bank caused irreparable harm to the fish they catch and the air they breathe.
The World Bank tried to dismiss the case, claiming "absolute legal immunity." In an essay on the Washington Post website this week, I argue that’s a mistake.
Not only should the World Bank subject itself to the rule of law, it should proactively make its investments more accountable.
One way would to do so is to help pay for independent legal support to the people affected by development.
Sierra Leone has a new land policy that calls for exactly that. It asks all investors to pay into a public fund which would then finance legal empowerment for communities whose land is at stake.
Could that work? Should we try to build public policies and a private sector norm along those lines? What are the risks of doing so? Let’s have a conversation.