Should the private sector help finance legal empowerment?


(Benson Wesamba) #46

There’s dire need to source funds from whichever sector I would fully support that . Be it private sector or government etc. However it shouldn’t have strings attached, if it’ll then our freedom and independence to execute our grassroot activities won’t be smooth comparing to, if it would’ve been from other sources otherwise.

(Paul Thomas) #47

They should because they are still part of society

(Mustafa Mahmoud) #48

Thanks V for this post.

You know financing is close to my heart. I agree with @MwikambaMwambi

We all get our funds from them already in one way or another. Though not directly. Some might argue that we get it through foundations but where did the money from the foundations originate from? But are all of them funding such initiatives? Are they doing enough compared to the harm they are doing? I know some might argue that not all of them are necessarily harming the environment. But on the other side they are ripping off either the poor or the environment itself without the communities benefiting.

For example we all love bottled water, leave alone what the plastic bottles do to the environment, have you ever though of how they are making millions from water that they obtain at very cheap rates from poor countries? Check this link where Nestle is sucking up water in communities at the end the areas becoming uninhabitable. The irony of buying your own water with the only addition being the branding. Should such corporations be forced by regulations to contribute to such funds? Or by the mere fact that every year in the name of CSR they go to an orphanage (children’s home) play with the kids and donate books or even pay their bills enough for the wealth they have sucked from such communities?

On the other hand, for those that are well known as the largest polluters especially the big petroleum corporations - is it ethical to take their money and do environmental conservation work? Isn’t that the same as cleaning up their messes? Or using their own funds to sue them in court? I remember having this discussion with one of their staff and I am yet to be convinced that it is ethical to receive such funds. Not unless it is before the corporation is set up and the damage is not yet done. But if the damage is already done then I believe we shall be the ones responsible of doing their dirty laundry. This reminds me of a campaign I read online about Pepsi promoting research about diabetes by donating 1 dollar for each 2 dollar giant pepsi cup you buy at a fast food joint. The link to the article criticising the campaign is here.

I hope we won’t be emulating the above campaign.

(Lewis Munyasia) #49

The private sector should help because it is part of the community. Its effort puts on toes those in leadership and the general community on realizing the need of empowering the target group. We must join hands to make our effort fruitful.

(Adeline M Potter) #50

i am so with you on this one, yes private sector should Finance legal empowerment because they too cause lot of injustices in my Country and the government do nothing about that as well. Private companies will go in the rural area to open their companies and then they start to abuse those villagers all because they are paying taxes to government. Especially in Liberia, those different companies that come, they just explore those poor villagers and nothing comes out it.

(Aminata Kiazolu) #51

Yes… as I learn the legal empowerment is a poor area so I suggest that the private sector help bring out the legal section. It’s will not be comprising base on our negotiation .

(Tobias Eigen) #52

(Meenakshi Kapoor) #53

Above discussion offers great points to channel one’s thoughts on an important issue like this. Thank you to all for this. I am sharing my views below.

I think we are confusing accountability with responsibility here. Accountability is about ‘the consequence’. It is about making a particular someone pay for and/or correct the consequence of their actions. Responsibility is about checking a box, which many other are also checking. Responsibility could be shared, but accountability is not. If we get the corporates to contribute to a generic LE fund or fund an LE organisation, even through an “institutional channel”, it means the corporates are being responsible (not accountable). Being accountable is about taking localized, specific measures to correct a specific wrong. This is what the paralegals in most places are doing: they are bringing the matters to the state/judicial system and getting the state to deliver justice to them, many times the costs for these are borne by the company responsible.

We need to understand that corporates these days are putting all their energies into “looking good” than “being good”. By taking money from corporates we are helping them look good, more attractive to the investors, improving their public image, all this helps them garner more investments and cause more destruction. Yes, if we want to ‘be in business’ forever, this might be an option worth considering.

The corporates would any day like to put a plaster on a problem than having to make any fundamental changes to their operations. Also, when our paralegals and communities, push for systemic changes that draw from their experience of living the impacts and trying to resolve them, the provisions such as CSR act as barriers. Getting the state machinery to see beyond that veneer of ‘good corporates’ and acknowledge problems caused by them gets far more difficult. India’s Tata is a classic example of this.

It is a sad fact across countries that many of our funding sources, governments, foundations, individual donations are already making investments in projects of such corporates and that money eventually lands in our plates. So many of us have argued that eventually it is the corporate money that we get to do our work. But we are forgetting one fundamental difference here i.e. the mandates of these funding sources is different from the mandate of a corporate. They are not here to make money, in several countries the state is a welfare state, the government’s mandate it to ensure basic amenities and wellbeing of its citizens, foundations’ put out their mandate of aiding democracy, transparency, equality, etc. loud and clear. Individuals are only trying to make best use of their resources to better their lives and the lives of those they care for. So they can be reminded their mandates when they digress, we cannot do this with the corporates.

I agree with Marlon, that we need to build an external constituency that involves affected community. However, I feel it should be the state that creates space for this. Making corporates responsible for “public projects” absolves the state of its responsibility. This transfer of responsibility to deliver public goods and services such as legal aid from the state to corporates is problematic. It is an admission that the government has failed to do its job. Increasingly, the governments are getting unabashed about admitting their shortfalls. This is a sorry scenario. I very strongly feel that we should not contribute to the trend.

Please pardon the use of strong words at places. Sincere apologies if those hurt anyone. No such intentions there, those are only a result of my strong feelings on the topic.



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