Legal Empowerment and Rights of Communities

In recognition of the changing context of the Rural Support Programmes’ work and the need for human rights mainstreaming, in 2012, the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) initiated a process of education and dialogue on the adoption of the rights-based approach. A regional conference on empowerment and rights of communities was organised by RSPN in April, 2013 to identify a concrete way forward on human rights, specifically legal empowerment, in the development work done by the RSPs. The conference was supported by Open Society Foundation (OSF) and was a discussion on lessons and best practices from the South and Central Asian region. The objective of the conference was to showcase the OSF-funded Legal Empowerment Project of the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) and to highlight the importance of rights-based approaches in development work.

Documenting Alternative Dispute Resolution through Local Support Organisations: Research and Strategic Planning

In order to fully understand how the concept of legal empowerment applies to and is interpreted by rural communities in Pakistan, RSPN conducted a study of some of its Local Support Organisations (LSOs) who are engaged in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Supported by OSF, the study documented cases where LSOs had undertaken ADR and the mechanisms they applied, in order to develop a broader view of how communities resolve local disputes in the context of their prevailing cultural norms.

The study analysed and documented specific LSO initiatives on conflict and dispute resolution, related mechanisms within the LSOs and LSO interaction with other ‘community’ mechanisms e.g., jirgas and panchayats. The study also documented the interface between these ‘informal’ structures and formal justice and dispute resolving mechanisms i.e., courts, police, etc.

For the full research report, please click on the publications section.

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