The Open Society Foundations provides extensive supports to a range of civil society organizations undertaking legal empowerment work in all regions of the world.
We provide technical support in Georgia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Albania, and Pakistan. Other initiatives include joint publications, providing advice on monitoring and evaluation and learning from existing studies, circulating experiences across the network on a needs-basis, and bringing practitioners into the global legal empowerment network.
In addition, we support a number of specific country projects to test the boundaries of legal empowerment techniques in a range of contexts.
Sierra Leone: The Open Society grantee Timap for Justice has pioneered community paralegal work in Sierra Leone since 2003. Sierra Leone emerged from a brutal civil war in 2001 that had largely taken place in rural areas. There was a critical need for social reparation. Timap uses a network of local paralegals, supervised by lawyers, to benefit rural and marginalized populations by conducting legal literacy campaigns, providing legal advice and consultation, and addressing higher-level legal and policy issues through strategic litigation and advocacy. Sierra Leone has a scarcity of lawyers and legal institutions, especially outside of the capital Freetown. Timap paralegals are often the only resource for addressing disputes.
Ukraine: Together with the Open Society-supported International Renaissance Foundation, the project has since 2010 developed a network of 28 Community Law Centers across the country. The centers offer a range of legal services through a mixed model of lawyers and trained local paralegals, providing access to legal resources and helping increase community participation in governance and dispute resolution.
Indonesia: With partners we are developing a comprehensive system of legal aid and community justice services across the country. This explores legal empowerment potential in an emerging and strengthening economy. In October 2011, the government passed a Law on Legal Assistance, representing a significant achievement based on a number of years of work. We are working with universities, government and civil society to help shape and facilitate implementation.
Pakistan: We are working to pilot appropriate models of legal empowerment interventions in the challenging area of KP on the borders with Afghanistan, working with the Sarhad Rural Support Program.