The West Africa Regional Meeting held from March 21-25th 2022 in Lagos, Nigeria brought together over 50 legal empowerment practitioners from 15 different countries, seeking to have in-depth discussions that will further a joint regional legal empowerment agenda.

The convening built up on the Inaugural West Africa Legal Empowerment Summit 2020, where network members from the region had identified regular exchanges as an important starting point for regional cohesion. Members honored this and held regular virtual meetings, both in Anglophone West Africa and Francophone Africa. In Anglophone West Africa, regional core group members analyzed the relationship between paralegal support organizations and their associated community-based paralegals. Discussions focused on the Structure of Paralegal Programs in West Africa, Paralegal Support and Training Methods, and ‘Supervising Paralegals’. Members from Francophone Africa focused on the use of legal empowerment strategies in land, natural resource governance, and engagements with community based paralegals.

In Lagos, practitioners prioritized deep learning on legal empowerment strategies to tackle sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and land and environmental justice (LEJ) as two cross-cutting challenges central to the work of many of the organizations present. Participants equally reflected on  case management systems and strategies, as well as participatory action research as a means of deepening learning to advance our legal empowerment work.

At the conclusion of the regional meeting, organizations present made justice commitments captured in the Lagos Declaration on Community Driven Justice. This declaration serves as a guiding framework for joint legal empowerment initiatives in the region.