Around the world, citizens' groups are taking action to change the way investments in natural resources are happening, to protect the rights of citizens and the environment for a fairer and more sustainable world. The Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment initiative shares tools and tactics among practitioners.
Citizens' groups are using multiple levers to promote justice, sustainability and accountability in investment processes. These range from grassroots action to claim rights, engage in legal reforms and international policy debates, to mobilising international human rights bodies. It also includes making use of investor and company grievance mechanisms to scrutinising international investment treaties, contracts and arbitration.
Through approaches such as legal literacy trainings, paralegal programmes, radio broadcasts or local deliberation tools, civil society organisations are enabling communities to register collective landholdings, claim their rights and to have a say in investments that affect their lives.
There is a need to share lessons from this experience – both the successes and the challenges still to be overcome. And in a carbon-constrained and time-pressured world, practitioners need new ways to communicate, interact and learn from one another without necessarily travelling the world to resource-intensive meetings.
What does IIED do?
IIED works with practitioners who are developing innovative approaches to reflect on their experiences and share this learning with others. This includes:
- Documenting and publicising lessons learnt, and
- Convening lesson-sharing events.
To facilitate international lesson-sharing, IIED and its partners use multiple interlinked channels, including international workshops, webinars, practitioner write-ups and newsletters.
Webinars are online seminars that enable practitioners to share their experience, learn from each other and create new alliances. Examples of past webinars include:
- Using community by-laws to secure customary land rights in Kenya, 16 November 2016
- Using online technology to empower communities facing land deals, 4 August 2016
- Enhancing women’s role in land management decisions, 24 March 2016
- Holding actors in agricultural investment chains to account, 22 October 2015
- The rise of civil society advocacy on investment treaties in Malaysia and the Philippines, 26 March 2015
- Paving a path towards redressing grievances and holding investors accountable, 7 January 2015
- Investor-state arbitration: Lessons from civil society advocacy, 19 May 2014
- Sustainability and scalability of legal empowerment interventions, 14 October 2014, and
- Striking down adverse investment laws: Success stories from Indonesia, 25 March 2014.
The practitioner write-ups provide an opportunity to reflect on innovative experiences, and to share lessons with a wider community of practitioners who may be grappling with similar issues elsewhere, or may be inspired to take action.
Connected and changing: An open data web platform to track land conflict in Myanmar, Catriona Knapman, Wai Wai Lwin (2016), project report
Genre et foncier : l’expérience des consultations juridiques gratuites au Sénégal, Khadidiatou Kébé Diouf (2016), IIED (in French only)
Mainstreaming gender in Tanzania’s local land governance, Nasieku Kisambu (2016), IIED
Community-based advocacy: lessons from a natural gas project in Mozambique, Alda Salomão (2015), IIED report
Asserting community land rights using RSPO complaint procedures in Indonesia and Liberia, Tom Lomax (2015), IIED report | en Français
Bringing community perspectives to investor-state arbitration: the Pac Rim case, Thierry Berger, Saúl Baños, Marcos A. Orellana (2015), IIED | en Español
Community-based monitoring of land acquisition: from the Buseruka oil refinery, Uganda, Bashir Twesigye (2015), IIED | en Français
Advocacy on investment treaty negotiations: lessons from Malaysian civil society, Fauwaz Abdul Aziz (2015), IIED
Catalysing famers' influence in shaping law reform: experience from Senegal, Ndèye Coumba Diouf (2015), IIED Case study | en Français
Legal advice for environmental justice: Experience from eastern India, Sanjay Upadhyay, Suparna Jain, Enviro Legal Defence Firm (2015), IIED Case study
Walking with villagers: how Liberia's land rights policy was shaped from the grassroots, Ali Kaba, Gaurav Madan (2014), IIED Case study | en Français
From legal caravans to revising the mining code: lessons from experience with legal empowerment in communities affected by mining, Mali, Amadou Keita, Moussa Djiré, Lorenzo Cotula (2014), IIED Case study | en Français
Challenging the constitutionality of Indonesia's investment law, Yudha Fathoni (2014), IIED Case study | en Français
From law school to the field: community lawyers in Cameroon, Samuel Nguiffo (2012), IIED Briefing | en Français
Barefoot lawyers: defending community resource rights in the Philippines, Carl Cesar Rebuta, Ronald A. Gregorio and Yasmin O. Hatta (2012) IIED | en Français
Listen, think and act: Radio broadcasting to promote farmers' participation in Mali's land policy, Mamadou Goïta and Mohamed Coulibaly (2012), IIED | en Français
Sustaining legal empowerment in initiatives to support local land rights, Robin Nielsen (2012), IIED Case study | en Français
Legal empowerment in practice. Using legal tools to secure land rights in Africa, Lorenzo Cotula and Paul Mathieu (2008), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN/IIED Land Tenure and Resource Access in Africa Series.
The reports listed above have been authored by one or more of the following organisations:
Association des juristes sénégalaises (AJS) (French language site)
Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD) (Spanish language site)
Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Melayu (MTEM), (Malay language site)
Groupe d’étude et de recherche en sociologie et droit appliqué (GERSDA)
The Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI, Serikat Petani Indonesia) (Indonesian language site)
Centre pour l’environnement et le développement (CED) in Cameroon (French language site)
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center/Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth-Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE-Philippines)
The Institute for Research and Promotion of Alternatives in Development in Africa (IRPAD)
Legal tools for citizen empowerment
Improving the use of legal tools to strengthen local rights and voices in natural resource investments