Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Legal Empowerment of the Poor Report

Making the Law Work for Everyone, Volume I (PDF) , was released on June 3rd,2008 by The Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor. The Commission is the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and law.

Chapter 1, Access to Justice and the Rule of Law (PDF), is the outcome of the working group chaired by Lloyd Axworthy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada and currently President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. The following is an excerpt from a discussion of legal information and education on pages 18 - 22:

"For a person with limited resources trying to get access to justice, the first (and sometimes the only) option is to decide what she can do herself. Her time may be less scarce than money. If she can find ways to solve the problem without paying legal fees that is what she will tend to prefer. So a first strategy for legal empowerment may be to enhance the possibilities for self-help in the area of access to justice. ... There is a certain tendency to equate access to justice with access to legal services, assuming that the only road to justice leads through lawyers and courts. This is rapidly changing, however, now that even the Western world discovers that many people appear in courts without legal representation and that information about legal rights and dispute resolution is an essential tool for empowerment, as well as for prevention of social strife. [pp.18 - 19.]"

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