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WHAT IS ACTION4JUSTICE?


A4J is a global civil society platform that was formed by a coalition of NGOs including Greenpeace, Oxfam, Transparency International, the Forest People’s Programme and IHRDA.

It seeks to build capacity, redistribute legal knowledge, create partnerships between legal activists, and empower communities through the creation of an informative platform to improve access to justice by providing practical advice on how legal action can be used for social justice.


WHY WAS ACTION4JUSTICE CREATED?


Legal action can be a powerful tool in upholding human rights, protecting our environment, and holding power to account.

BUT legal action is generally out of reach to the vast majority of people who need it most. This is because:

  • Law is complex and can be difficult to understand
  • There can be legal and procedural barriers that stop you from using legal action
  • There can be practical difficulties in using legal action (e.g. costs, time, security threats)
  • People often don’t know what they’re rights are and how they can be enforced

Most people suffering from injustice do not have access to justice. The potential for legal action to tackle a wide range of problems remains untapped. Action4Justice was created out of a desire to change this reality.

Lawyers working for a number of international and national civil society organisations realised that there was a need to equip civil society organisations, legal practitioners and communities with the tools to identify and exploit opportunities to take legal action in furtherance of social justice.

To do so, we decided to create a platform to enable civil society organisations, practitioners and communities to access information about their rights and how to enforce them. We want to provide those in need with simple, practical and accessible resources to understand when and how legal action can be used to solve problems, deliver systemic change, and in doing so, reinforce the rule of law.

The internet could be harnessed as a powerful tool in achieving this objective, allowing for the pooling and exchange of expertise. While there are many existing websites devoted to accessing legislation and case law, our research showed that few provided knowhow on the practical aspects of access to justice. Those that do are confined to narrow areas of law, rather than providing users with information about the range of options open to them.


OUR VISION


Our vision is of a world where there is access to justice.

A world where:

  • The vulnerable and marginalised enforce their legal rights without impediment;
  • Human rights are upheld, our natural environment is protected;
  • State and corporate actors held to account for human rights and environmental abuses; and
  • The vulnerable have meaningful access to justice.

Our vision is underwritten by the belief that for social and environmental justice is to realised, there must first be access to justice.


OUR MISSION


Our mission is to equip individuals and communities with the practical information needed to help them uphold their human rights and protect their environment through legal action and advocacy.

We will achieve this by:

  1. Providing practical guidance on access to justice in the most vital areas of need;
  2. Distributing our materials via websites, other appropriate portals/media and via partnerships with networks on the ground in the countries we serve; and
  3. Facilitating the creation of communities of public interest lawyers and activists to be a further resource of legal and practical support in this field.

KEY FEATURES OF THE A4J PLATFORM


Problem-based guidance: A typical user has a concrete problem and is looking for a solution rather than for law for its own sake. The platform is structured and designed to respond to concrete problems by providing practical solutions.

Accessible content: The website does not seek to replace other initiatives that store primary materials such as statutes, treaties, jurisprudence and reports. The focus will be on “how to” guides, flowcharts and checklists in simple language. Reference will be made to existing resources, but in the context of bespoke summaries and guides written for the website. The overarching aim is to provide the means of practical action in the form of the appropriate legal response to a problem. Information provided focuses on practical issues, such as community and information security and evidence gathering, as well as pure legal knowledge.

Extraterritoriality: The solutions to many problems lie in a place remote from the problem. A4J will enable “internationalisation” of action where appropriate, outlining possibilities for legal action in foreign national courts, as well as in regional and international forums. It will also enable users to replicate in their own countries solutions to similar issues applied elsewhere.

Cross-cutting themes: There are many “single issue” resources devoted to one social issue. Many real world problems do not fit neatly in such categories and communities often suffer across a range of issues. A4J enables an intersectional approach to addressing problems through legal action.

User-friendliness: We aim to avoid a text-heavy approach. We maximise use of graphics, videos, icons and means of user interaction influenced by social media.

Use of Local Networks: The platform facilitates local partnerships with universities, law firms and civil society who are encouraged to be responsible for content on specific topics or in geographical areas.


HOW TO USE THIS WEBSITE


This website is intended to provide practical steps to help communities, lawyers and civil society organisations use the law to solve real life issues and problems. It does NOT set out to have details of lots of laws or legal cases. It will NOT give all the answers and resources needed to take action.

It provides “thinking steps” on taking legal action, with pointers to possible solutions for human rights and environmental issues. It has checklist, guides, tips and examples. It has details of other people who can help you.

You can use the site by:

  • Looking for solutions to specific problems under “Legal Areas” listed on the Home Page such as Corruption or Land Grabs. Pick the legal area that relates to your problem.
  • Looking for general tips and guidance about taking legal action under the “Going to Court Q&A” section shown on the Home Page.
  • Looking for part of the platform dealing with the country where you are under “Action4Justice International“, shown on the Home Page.
  • Looking for further resources in the Resource Bank.