How can communities fighting for justice leverage the full power of litigation for their causes and campaigns? That is the question on everybody’s lips.
Ok, maybe not on everybody’s lips, and maybe that’s the problem. We have been giving this question a lot of thought, together with movements and collectives fighting for racial, social, and economic justice in Europe.
In fact, our whole mission at Systemic Justice is founded on radically transforming how litigation can better work for communities, so that the law can properly serve the interests, objectives, needs, and visions of those on the frontlines of creating a different world. Because the future of strategic litigation is one where communities are able to include legal action in their campaigns for change while remaining firmly in the driver’s seat. To do this, they need to be able to build their power through knowledge of strategic litigation, on their own terms.
That is why a critical component of our work is centred on building resources for organisations on strategic litigation and legal know-how, delivering workshops and trainings, and holding drop-in calls to address communities’ questions.
We are not here to set the agenda, or to tell people what they need. Rather, as with everything we do, we take our cue from communities themselves. In our 2022 community consultation process and Europe-wide needs assessment you told us accessing clear and accessible information on strategic litigation was an issue. Therefore, we developed our first series of resources to start building up a community toolkit for change. These resources include:
- a guide for legal action, because there’s no “perfect case” but a myriad of ways in which communities can build legal strategies in support of their campaigns;
- a glossary of essential legal terms, because in order to drive racial, social, and economic justice through the courts we need a shared understanding of terms and their meanings;
- a conversation starter, because you don’t need to wait around on lawyers to start discussing, as a community, whether litigation can serve your vision for change.
None of these resources are meant to substitute legal advice, of course. But they are intended to make litigation more accessible by providing essential information to activists and movements considering whether litigation is for them. The full toolkit will be published in English on our website on 13 November 2023.
We have designed these resources with clarity and accessibility at their heart, and hope they will become a useful addition to your own toolbox. All resources will be free to download and use under a creative commons license, and this is just the beginning! These resources won’t just be another PDF sitting on your desktop. We have big plans for the future: translating the resources into multiple languages, producing audio versions, creating explainer videos, and designing accompanying interactive tools.
And in the meantime, we hope you will join us on Tuesday 14 November at 18:00 CET to celebrate their launch! We are hosting a one-hour webinar to share more about how our resources came about and how to use them, and to explore how communities can leverage the full potential of the courts. To do this, we will be in conversation with Ife Thompson, UK-based movement lawyer and community activist, and Johnathan Lee, Advocacy and Communications Director at the European Roma Rights Centre.
This Zoom webinar will be in English with live interpretation in French, Spanish, and British Sign Language, and translated live captioning in many more!
Download all resources in our community toolkit for free: systemicjustice.ngo/community-toolkit/