Legal empowerment of the poor

Microjustice4All aims to fulfil the basic legal needs of people who do not have access to the legal system in their country. The international community has recognized the importance of legal aid for the poorest people as a precondition for sustainable development. In 2005, the Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor was established under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program. It was the first global initiative which examined the link between exclusion, poverty and the law. The findings of the Commission’s report in 2008[1]  illustrate the importance of providing legal services to the poor, in particular, legal services relating to (1) identity papers, (2) land and house registration, (3) income generation and registration of legal personality, including business registration and (4) worker’s rights. Through its structural and sustainable method, Microjustice4All ensures people can obtain these legal documents. It combines this with evidence-based lobbying at an institutional level.


The High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda has identified inclusive development, ‘leaving no one behind’ and legal empowerment of the poor as key agenda[2] points. This requires a rights-based approach where all can participate and have the same legal rights and opportunities. “Societies without a predictable legal framework are societies where people do not invest in their future, or the future of their country.”  (Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, New York, 19 September 2013).

Despite the global support for Legal Empowerment of the Poor on paper, Microjustice4All is the one of the only initiatives to date that addresses the Legal Empowerment of the Poor structurally at the grassroots level. Legal development aid is often limited to ‘top-down’ capacity-building through judicial institutions. In contrast, Microjustice4All uses a ‘bottom-up’ approach to lobby for changes making the system more accessible. Free legal aid programs tend to focus mainly on mediation and court representation and do not have a sustainability model. Microjustice4All however aims to offer services in administrative and private-law issues that impact large numbers of people. Microjustice4All is also critical for victims of conflict and disaster, especially for displaced populations, legal rehabilitation and restoration of livelihoods.






[1] Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor and the United Nations Development Programme, ‘Making the Law Work for Everyone’, Volume II, Working Group Reports, 2008, [accessed 03/10/2016].







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