We work in collaboration with marginalised communities, helping them to understand and assert their legal rights in the development process through providing legal assistance and education. We aim to provide communities with the opportunity for justice in situations where their legal rights have been ignored, and to empower them to become articulate and effective participants in the development of their own futures.
Our work is organised into three programmes: public interest law, intellectual property rights (IPRs) and biodiversity, and governance and accountability. The issues we are currently working on include:
- intellectual property rights in biodiversity
- free, prior and informed consent
- environmental impact assessments of large infrastructure projects
- environmental pollution
- the impacts of corruption
We are currently working in Southern Africa, and we are expanding our work across the continent, and into other parts of the developing world. Click on the links above to find out more about each programme.
How we work
We respond to requests for help from communities and local NGOs in cases where existing law can be used to prevent or rectify the unlawful exploitation of a community’s natural resources.
We build partnerships between experienced and dedicated development lawyers, local NGOs and community representatives to work towards justice for the community. We prepare cases, and assist local lawyers to negotiate on behalf of the affected communities and litigate in local courts. Successful legal advocacy can provide such communities with direct economic benefits and the means to emerge from poverty.
We build up the long term legal capacity of the affected communities by training young local lawyers and educating communities on their legal rights. This ensures that our work is sustainable, as communities are then able to understand the use of the law as a tool for development, enabling them to advocate effectively for themselves. At the end of a project, we step back to a consultative role, leaving a community with knowledge of and confidence in the law, and the ability to assert their legal rights in the future.