Sharing a meal with peers from around the world who also share your passion for justice is a powerful memory, and one among many we have carried home from the World Justice Forum. The Forum convened at The Hague, Netherlands, and online, in early June to discuss solutions to some of our world’s most pressing challenges: closing the justice gap, ensuring equality, and ending corruption.@FrancTerihati @AnnetteMbogoh @POSJonathan @lucianabercovich @marlonmanuel @AjayShankar)
The Forum afforded us an incredible opportunity to meet with many members of the Legal Empowerment Network while there. While recent regional Network events, such as the Chile Learning Exchange and the West Africa meeting, allowed local and regional interactions, the Forum was the first such global opportunity in years. Members built serendipitous connections, had important conversations on justice, spoke of their shared concerns, and had impromptu “learning exchanges” of their own. They discussed issues like collaboration with governments; the recognition of community paralegals; and ways to secure funding to continue the work. Many others joined virtually, sharing with us their legal empowerment learnings, helping us organize Network-led events, and actively shaping conversations.@AnnetteMbogoh) discussing their work at lunch
Below, we’re sharing a few key highlights and takeaways from the event, in case you missed it:
- The critical role of grassroots organizations in delivering justice was a prominent theme at the forum. Speakers and attendees emphasized the need for financing legal empowerment and investing in grassroots justice groups through mechanisms such as the Legal Empowerment Fund. This is a testament to the growth of our movement for legal empowerment.
The Network convened two working sessions on the role of legal empowerment in tackling gender-based violence, and protecting land and environmental justice defenders. Network member FIDA Uganda, along with ICJ-Kenya, launched a new report, The Role of Legal Empowerment Groups in Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa During the Pandemic. This report has been produced with contributions from network members in and beyond Sub-Saharan Africa.
Network members from Ukraine-based Legal Development Network attended in-person to speak of the injustices in Ukraine and the role of legal empowerment in war, even as they continue their fight. We were grateful to hear from them and learn about the ways in which they are using legal empowerment methods to respond to the needs of communities in the midst of this crisis.
Legal Development Network team at the Justice Expo
We met with several Network members who had previously attended the Legal Empowerment Leadership Course. It was heartening to hear about the great progress they have made, despite the challenges of the past few years. For example, member @FrancTerihati shared that they’ve been able to start a new organization, the Centre for Legal Empowerment, in Albania, to address the justice needs of communities through legal empowerment methodologies.
The World Justice Challenge celebrated the incredible resilience of grassroots legal empowerment organizations in the face of war, rising authoritarianism, and closing civic spaces. We cheered on Network member POS Foundation (Ghana), who won the Alumni Prize, and the Legal Development Network (Ukraine) and The International Legal Foundation (The ILF); Public Defender Society of Nepal (PDS-Nepal), who received Honorable Mentions.
The opportunity to connect with the Network community in-person and virtually has given us energy, inspiration and motivation for the work ahead. We look forward to more opportunities to engage with you and build a stronger, more connected movement for justice, together!