Access to justice, as defined by the United Nations Development Program and understood and accepted within the international human rights community, means that laws and remedies must be just, equitable, and sensitive to the needs of the poor and marginalized. At the same time, difficulties encountered by vulnerable populations in understanding and asserting their legal rights require the attention of legal institutions. Equal access to justice, whether through the courts or other legal mechanisms, therefore creates a crucial precondition for broad-based prosperity and security under the rule of law.
Where there is a real or perceived breakdown of rule of law, and where political, legal, economic, and institutional biases and barriers marginalize segments of the population, equal access to justice is not a given.
Global Rights therefore focuses on vulnerable populations and their legal challenges. We help the poor and marginalized access legal systems, thereby increasing governmental accountability and public faith in the rule of law.
In recent years, both the nature and extent of human rights violations have significantly worsened in Nigeria concurrent with rising insecurity and violence. Most of these violations play out in the theatre of the on-going insurgency and the counter-terrorism operations of security forces, with limited opportunities for redress for victims. In this militarized situation, there is little state accountability and vulnerable populations have become victims of indiscriminate attacks by both the military and insurgents, who act without adherence to the norms of the standards care for civilians.
Global Rights therefore works with vulnerable groups and communities to demand accountability of security forces and ensure the rights of citizens are promoted and protected. We do this by promoting adherence to the rule of law even in asymmetrical warfare, amplifying the voices of indigent communities caught between government security forces and insurgents, and are particularly at risk of having their basic human rights violated, given the often long histories of weak governance, inadequate resources and lack of basic understanding of their rights; and how to hold government accountable for their protection.
Women’s rights and gender equality is at the core of Global Rights’ work. Our particular emphasis on the rights of women is woven through all of our initiatives and also as standalone program. We have been working in Northern Nigeria for over a decade by building the capacity of local activists to provide community based paralegal services (legal first aid) to indigent women who are particularly vulnerable given the paucity of access to justice in the region. Our paralegal services partners work alongside indigent women to ensure that they can understand and assert their rights in cases involving issues such as forced marriage, child custody, domestic and sexual violence.
Top priorities on our women’s rights and gender equality program are sexual and gender based violence, women’s participation in democratic life and their access to socio-economic opportunities, ensuring gender mainstreaming in every facet of national life.
For extractive host communities, expectations of a better life are too often replaced by an overwhelming sense of injustice. They lose their lands and livelihoods, grapple with pollution affecting their environment and health, see women disproportionately affected, and have little or no say in the processes that determine if and how their resource rich lands will be exploited. Their compounding frustrations are often expressed through violence, contributing to increased insecurity.
Global Rights therefore partners with civil society organizations and extractive host communities to strengthen their ability to prevent, monitor and document human rights violations and abuses, and to design and implement engagement and advocacy strategies with the government, companies, and other identified stakeholders.
Our vision is for extractive host communities:
- To have the ability and means to assert, protect and monitor their rights with knowledge and skills;
- To meaningfully participate in the decision-making processes that determine their future;
- To equitably share in the benefits that natural resource development can bring.