MJ4All has developed its method in humanitarian disasters. A handbook and toolkits are available. See a preview here.
Microjustice4All Legal and Administrative Services in Humanitarian Crises
The legal aspects of emergency response, disaster relief and rehabilitation are essential and need to be structurally integrated into the humanitarian response. Victims of humanitarian disasters often lose their basic legal and administrative documents, which are necessary to prove their identity and ownership of property, or never had these documents in the first place.. This leads to difficulty in obtaining refugee/internally displaced person (IDP) status, accessing aid programs and rebuilding their livelihoods. These problems are compounded by the fact that the institutional infrastructures are often damaged, making the bureaucratic processes slower. Microjustice4All (MJ4All) seeks to provide a solution to this complex web of problems.
Enhancing Existing Humanitarian Aid Efforts
MJ4All provides legal services which are needed to access humanitarian aid and to ensure sustainable rehabilitation. MJ4All Programs are implemented within the exiting humanitarian relief infrastructure and in close co-operation with aid agencies. The objective is to complement existing humanitarian aid efforts and contribute to their effectiveness and sustainability.
The Benefits of the Microjustice4All Methodology
The MJ4All Methodology makes it possible to provide fast, effective and practical legal services in humanitarian crises. We help victims to resolve their legal issues, obtain legal documents (e.g. documents relating to identity and property) and fill out forms which are necessary to access reconstruction loans, get refugee status, obtain aid relief and restore their livelihoods. The MJ4All Methodology and Toolkit can be used worldwide in post-emergency relief and rehabilitation efforts. By integrating legal services into the humanitarian aid efforts, the outcomes of these efforts become more structural and permanent.
MJ4All Toolkit for Humanitarian Relief and Rehabilitation
MJ4All has prepared a humanitarian toolkit. This has been developed on the basis of MJ4All’s experience with providing relief in the man-made disasters described in Annex 1 and the earthquakes and flooding during the pilot projects in Pisco and Iquitos in 2015/16.
MJ4All legal services are relevant for several stages of the relief and rehabilitation efforts:
- Phase 1 Pre-emergency phase
- Prepare emergency legal aid plans.
- Inform the public about the importance of safeguarding legal documents (so they can access them after the emergency);
- Form partnerships with relevant stakeholders working in the humanitarian aid sector (to be able to co-ordinate and communicate effectively before, during and after the emergency);
- Especially in disaster prone locations, develop a MJ4All mechanism and the MJ4All products (standardized legal services), and lobby institutions, encouraging them to set up special procedures to deal with the emergency;
- Phase 2 Post-emergency Response and Relief
- Transparency and Accountability: Collecting complaints about legal obstacles and corruption and evidence-based lobbying on the basis of these complaints.
- Legal needs and context mapping: mapping the victims, who they are, where they came from and what their needs are.
- Partnerships with stakeholders, e.g. government institutions.
- Legal aid, including: aid to obtain civil documents (which are necessary to access aid programs), fit-for-purpose land and housing surveys (community-based registrations of property and damage) and assistance with filling out forms;
- Awareness-raising and legal education;
- Phase 3 Legal Rehabilitation
- Fit-for-purpose) surveys and registrations for land and housing;
- Access to reconstruction loans;
- Obtaining recognition of legal personality (neighbourhoods, associations), which is necessary to access public services, loans etc;
- Access to public services;
- Civil documentation.
The Humanitarian Innovation Fund has provided funding for MJ4All to prepare a Humanitarian Toolkit and adapt it for post-disaster relief in Pisco and Iquitos, Peru.
Integrating Microjustice4All Legal Services into the Humanitarian Response
We hope you feel inspired to integrate MJ4All Legal Services within your humanitarian aid program. If you are interested, please get in contact to discuss setting up a License Agreement. The License Agreement will be adapted to the specific situation, the possibilities, opportunities and challenges and your needs. Once you have signed a License Agreement, you will be given access to the MJ4All Methodology Handbook, the MJ4All Toolkit and tailor-made support from MJ4All and the MJ4All International Network. MJ4All can provide consultancy services to assist you in setting up a MJ4All Program.
The Experience of MJ4All in the Context of Humanitarian Relief and Rehabilitation
The MJ4All Methodology is based on 20 years of practical experience working in and studying man-made and natural humanitarian crises. At the end of 1996, we started our work with a post-war legal rehabilitation program in the Former Yugoslavia, where hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) had to arrange a great number of legal and administrative issues. Most of these issues had to be arranged in their former home towns, from which they were now separated by newly created borders. Working together with the Humanitarian Centre for Integration and Tolerance in Novi Sad, Serbia, MJ4All played an important role in developing practical cross-border legal solutions for these refugees. The key legal needs of these refugees were:
- Property and housing issues, particularly reclaiming private property, resolving issues of pre-war occupancy and tenancy rights, compensation for property damaged as a result of terrorist acts, and access to reconstruction aid and loans;
- Administrative or declaratory proceedings, necessary to access basic rights (including inheritance proceedings or extra-judicial proceedings);
- Contractual issues, such as issues related to force majeure, abuse of circumstance, duress, annulment of contracts, debt payment litigation, and employment relations litigation;
- War crime prosecution and implementation of the Amnesty Law.
In response to these needs, MJ4All established a network of lawyers, paralegals, and volunteers on both sides of the Croatia/Serbia border. The lawyers and paralegals on the Serbian side obtained certified powers of attorney on behalf of the refugees. Then, the MJ4All office at Vukovar (at the border between Serbia and Croatia) collected the necessary documents and sent them to paralegals in Croatia. The cross-border legal assistance resolved the stalemate which these refugees faced: they had to get their paperwork from the municipalities of origin, but they could not travel there unless they had the necessary paperwork!
Through this network, MJ4All was able to help refugees and IDPs access important legal documents such as birth certificates, citizenship certificates, and proof of property ownership. These documents were essential for people wishing to return to their home country and rebuild their lives there, and also for those wishing to resettle in new areas. Where refugees faced more complex legal challenges, MJ4All assisted them in taking their case to court and provided advocacy services. Furthermore, MJ4All lobbied the governments to remove key legal obstacles.
Building on this experience, MJ4All worked on IDP rehabilitation in Georgia/South Ossetia (1999), Sudan (Khartoum return to the South, 2005), Colombia (2005/6), Iraq (2003) and Pisco and Iquitos in Peru (as of 2009) and Kenya (as of 2016).