International Development Law Organization

Legal Empowerment

Rights mean little if those entitled to them are not aware they exist. Due process is of doubtful value when you are illiterate, or unable to understand the proceedings. Courts are next to worthless for those who cannot afford the bus fare to reach them. Nor should justice be about courts alone. For all these reasons, legal empowerment is crucial. Part of IDLO's bottom-up (or demand side) approach, it involves equipping people with the knowledge, confidence and skills to realize their rights. Even as we work to improve the functioning of justice systems, we strengthen citizens' capacity to press for justice from below.

The rule of law only exists to the extent that it works for all.

Divulgación de derechos de población en condición de vulnerabilidad en América Latina | Promoting rights of vulnerable populations in Latin America

SAN JOSE, 25 de octubre del 2012 – El programa EUROsociAL II, y la Organización Internacional del Derecho para el Desarrollo, IDLO en calidad de socio operativo, organizaron un Taller Regional de Necesidades y Prioridades para la Divulgación de Derechos de Población en Condición de Vulnerabilidad en San José, Costa Rica. 

Rights for Paraguay's Disadvantaged

IDLO is working with the disadvantaged in Paraguay under the European Union’s EUROsociAL program, supporting the provision of free legal advice to residents in one of Asunción's poorest neighborhoods. This is the first step towards strengthening access to rights and justice for deprived communities in the country in line with the Brasilia Regulations on Access to Justice. The project being is being implemented in collaboration with the Paraguayan Ministry of Justice.

Legal Services for Migrant Women

IDLO is working in Costa Rica with the European Union’s EUROsociAL program to empower migrant women and refugees who are victims of violence. The project, supported by Costa Rica’s judiciary and France Expertise Internationale (FEI), provides orientation and legal assistance to vulnerable migrant women, in line with the Brasilia Regulations on Access to Justice.

Building Brazil’s House of Rights

IDLO has been working to empower some of Brazil’s most disadvantaged, within the framework of the European Union’s EUROsociAL program. The Brasilia Regulations Regarding Access to Justice for Vulnerable People, adopted in 2008, serve as a basis for our intervention. In collaboration with Brazil’s Ministry of Justice, we are leading the Access to Law element of the program, which is co-ordinated by France Expertise Internationale (FEI).

Confronting Bias in Argentina

IDLO has been working with victims of gender violence and disadvantaged young people through the EU’s EUROsociAL program. Backed by Argentina’s Ministry of Justice, the initiative is aimed at raising awareness about women’s rights and increasing legal assistance. Youth access to education is also being promoted through the project, which is being co-ordinated by France Expertise Internationale (FEI).

Legal Aid for All Afghans

In December 2006, IDLO assisted graduates from its Defense Lawyers Training in launching a nationwide Afghan movement to promote access to justice and legal awareness, and pro­vide legal aid services to the poor. Ever since, IDLO has supported and improved legal aid in Afghanistan through training, technical assistance, monitoring, evaluation and financial support.

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Key Initiatives

  • Following the Tunisian revolution of  2011, the new Constitution adopted in 2014 aimed to embed the principle of equality between women and men as well as ensuring the State’s obligation to protect women’s rights. However, despite the reforms to the legal framework in Tunisia to increase protection for women against gender-based violence, justice sector professionals, particularly judges and bailiffs, have limited knowledge, skills and capacity to act as effective gender justice agents, as stipulated by the new Law.
  • IDLO is rolling out a program that aims to secure accessible, quality and sustainable justice services for citizens - particularly those living in rural, poor and other disadvantaged communities. The Community Justice Programme (CJP) supports both state and non-state legal aid, legal empowerment and other justice delivery interventions.
  • Since the revolution in 2011, Tunisia has experienced a period of significant political transition and change culminating in the adoption of a new constitution in 2014, which called for justice reform and protection of women’s rights. However, the practical application of the framework for legal assistance in Tunisia demonstrates the insufficiency of existing relevant mechanisms. Therefore, there is the strong need to empower women to access justice and claim their rights.
  • Alternative dispute resolution, and in particular mediation, is finally gaining momentum in Tajikistan. Previous attempt to introduce law on mediation in Tajikistan have not been successful and consequently there is currently no formal legal framework for mediation. In the first phase of the project, the International Development Law Organization worked to promote commercial mediation and build momentum for its expansion. However, there is still the need to provide assistance to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mediation Center and improve its effectiveness.
  • Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.
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