New International Legal Support for Resource Justice Organizations

The rising global appetite for natural resources has made community land protection an urgent challenge of our time. In the week when we celebrate our shared planet for Earth Day, now is a fitting time to think of the millions whose lands and environment are being harmed by escalating resource exploitation – and consider how we can help.

Across the world, communities are being displaced and denied access to their land and natural resources on an industrial scale. Global investment in natural resource exploitation is having profound effects on who can use land and resources — creating opportunity for some, but having devastating impacts on many. At the same time, the courageous community organizers and national advocates who work to challenge irresponsible resource developments must overcome huge gaps in power and information between themselves and the proponents of developments.

But exploitative and irresponsible resource development is not inevitable.

Lawyers for Resource Justice is a new collaboration between Namati, International Senior Lawyers Project and Avaaz. This initiative connects grassroots organizations with volunteer international lawyers who provide customized, high-power legal support to empower vulnerable communities to use the law to protect their rights and amplify their voice internationally.

We believe that communities and national advocates, not external experts, are the leading agents of social change. At the same time, these local champions can often benefit significantly from the support of international lawyers who can help hold international investors to account in their home jurisdictions. The purpose of Lawyers for Resource Justice is to offer communities and national advocates increased access to customized, strategic legal support when and how they choose.

Collaborations between local advocates, community organizers, and international lawyers can effectively support communities to protect their rights, lands, and environment. Cases like the ones highlighted on our website from Cambodia, Liberia, and Kenya demonstrate how communities and grassroots advocates can leverage international legal support to hold governments and investors accountable if they fail to protect and respect human rights.

Organizations can request legal support at There is no application deadline, but we cannot guarantee assistance to all applicants. We strongly encourage applications from groups working on proposed or anticipated resource development projects. The earlier we start, the more legal strategies are available.

We believe that collaboration between international and local experts can build vital supports for communities to prevent and remedy damages from resource development in their homelands. Working together, grassroots communities, national advocates, and international allies can defend a true rights-based approach to resource development.

Apply here now

Read our post on the IIED blog

Read our post on the Devex blog

Marena Brinkhurst is the Program Associate with Namati’s Community Land Protection program.

April 22, 2015 | Marena Brinkhurst