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Call for proposals: research to close the justice gap in Africa and South-East Asia

February 15, 2021
IDRC is pleased to announce a call for proposals for multi-year research projects on innovative legal empowerment approaches in Africa and South-East Asia. Local organizations will lead the research, which will promote the rights of vulnerable groups and foster more inclusive and accountable institutions.
Paralegals make an outdoor presentation to community members in Elechi, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Justice & Empowerment Initiatives — Nigeria

Through this call for proposals, IDRC will generate evidence on how community-based activities to seek justice for rights violations strengthen democracy and protect human rights.

The starting points of community-based justice efforts are the lived experiences and problems of ordinary people — for instance, a mother struggling to obtain identification documents or members of a fishing community seeking to stop a factory from illegally dumping poisonous chemicals in their waters.

There is a growing global justice gap. Over half of the world’s population is excluded from the opportunities and protections that the law provides. This means that 1.5 billion people cannot access support to resolve justice problems, which are often linked to the denial of public services. Rights violations have severe impacts on peoples’ well-being. They fall disproportionately on women and marginalized groups and limit the possibility of reaching basic development goals such as the global Sustainable Development Goals.

Legal empowerment approaches address these challenges by equipping all people, especially the most vulnerable, to know, use, and shape the law. Research shows that when poor and vulnerable groups can understand their rights and their options under the law, their experience as citizens is transformed.

This call for proposals aims to catalyze a next generation of knowledge and evidence on which legal empowerment approaches work and under what conditions they can contribute to achieving systems change, especially for women and vulnerable groups. The three-year applied research projects will contribute findings to a larger legal empowerment learning agenda. Led by Namati, this agenda aims to fill gaps in what is known about grassroots justice approaches and how they can help address the root causes of exclusion and inequality and promote improved public accountability. Experiences from grassroots justice support will provide valuable evidence on how the law works in practice, where public systems meant to protect rights break down, and which reforms are needed.

COVID-19 has generated a range of justice and human rights challenges in the Global South. This has created an urgency to act as well as an opportunity for new learning as we work to close the justice gap and ensure a just response and recovery from the pandemic.

For more information, and to apply, please go to our call for proposals page.