Discover the Latest Innovations and Lessons Learned in Rule of Law and Legal Empowerment Projects
Recently someone asked me about online initiatives that are expanding access to justice. It was such an interesting question that I thought I’d share my answer in a new post. Most of the examples are collected from previous posts, but I’m also adding a few examples I haven’t had a chance to highlight yet. Enjoy!
Youth used the hashtag #WAAI (Week of Action Against Impunity) and awarded prizes every hour to the person who had the highest number of tweets and retweets. A few young people were pleasantly surprised to receive 1000 airtime minutes for their participation. The Tweet-A-Thon was part of a weeklong campaign that included other events such as a community forum on ‘Impunity and Rule of Law’.
#2. In January, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) organized a webinar where two Indonesian legal empowerment practitioners, who work with peasants’ and indigenous peoples organizations, shared lessons about their experiences. The webinar was one in a series of online workshops IIED is organizing so people can attend from their desk or portable internet device. The first topic was on ‘Challenging the constitutionality of adverse laws: Success stories from Indonesia’. Yudha Fathoni and Mina Setra shared their inspiring stories and showed how it is possible to have provisions in laws, that adversely affect the rights of local communities, overturned so that laws shaping investments in the natural resources are more likely to promote and protect the rights of rural citizens.
#3. Minority Rights Group is implementing an innovative program to implement Bosnia’s anti-discrimination law. They work with field workers who monitor the extent to which the provisions in the anti-discrimination law is being met and at the same time look for strategic cases that can test the boundaries and parameters of the law in practice. The program also includes networking meetings with lawyers, activists, and minorities and the provision of legal assistance via Skype at various locations throughout Bosnia.
#4. Earlier this year, the Moroccan Diaspora held virtual consultations around the world to receive feedback from Moroccan civil society organizations working abroad on how they can become involved in rule of law efforts in Morocco. In 2011, Morocco took the unprecedented step of providing their Diaspora with guaranteed rights under their new constitution.
#5. In 2013, 100,000 Nigerians participated in a twitter conference to review Nigeria’s constitution. The e-conference was the second such event organized to mobilize and encourage young people in Nigeria to share their views and deliberate on proposed amendments to the Constitution. Organized by the Youth Alliance on Constitution Review, the twitter conference empowered Nigeria’s youth to provide input on reports presented by the National Assembly. For two hours, youth from all over Nigeria identified gaps and made suggestions on effective lobbying and advocacy strategies to influence the constitutional review process.
#6. In Russia, Hand-help.ru is an e-platform that allows Russians to learn about the constantly changing drug laws. The website helps correct common misconceptions about the laws among the general populace, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges. The founder of the website also co-founded the Andrey Rylkov Foundation where street outreach workers provide legal consultations for people who use drugs.
#7. In Uganda, Barefootlaw has 16,000 online followers who can reach out to the non-profit to ask for legal aid using Facebook, Twitter and Skype.