Improving our Community Toolkit: launching our second-round needs assessment

Building Knowledge and Power

A critical component of the community-driven litigation model Systemic Justice has developed is to work in consultation with organisations and collectives to make knowledge on the law and litigation as a tool more readily accessible to everyone.

When we say “consultation”, we don’t mean a tick-boxing exercise. We directly ask communities what they need to be able to use the law, on their own terms, and we take steps to build resources and tools to help meet that need. In short, we want to ensure communities themselves determine what we develop.

To help build the knowledge of communities to leverage the courts for their campaigns for change, we develop resources, deliver workshops and trainings, and host 1:1 calls to address communities’ questions. The resources we develop are for communities who are considering whether legal action is for them or who wish to learn more about strategic litigation and how it can be used in different ways in service of their visions for a more just world.

In 2022, we undertook a first needs assessment to better understand what resources communities wanted to see in order to build their confidence, knowledge, and capacity to leverage litigation – while remaining firmly rooted in their power. We conducted this needs assessment over the course of 6 months using a variety of channels, to ensure we made the process as accessible as possible to reflect the diverse needs of community groups across the Council of Europe area. We did so through an online survey available in English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and Russian and offered to receive people’s input and suggestions via drop in calls, email, text messages, and voice notes in their preferred language.

This resulted in great insight into the concrete needs of communities, movements, and collectives working on a diversity of issues. Respondents pointed to the difficulty of accessing clear information and guidelines on what strategic litigation is, how to identify and build pathways to litigation, and how to navigate legalese – legal terminology that is unnecessarily obscure and complex. Based on these results we launched our “Community Toolkit for Change: Resources for leveraging the courts” in 2023. This toolkit contains three resources, a Guide for legal action, a Glossary of essential legal terms, and a Conversation starter that set out some of the key components when considering whether litigation is a good fit for your cause. The Guide for legal action is also available in an audio version, and the full toolkit will soon be available in French and Spanish.

In 2024/25, we plan on expanding our toolkit with additional resources to build on the feedback we’ve received and continuing to adjust our work to communities’ needs. To do so, we are conducting a second needs assessment to understand from communities and movements how the toolkit can be improved and what other resources would be useful to make strategic litigation a tool in their toolbox for change. We would love to hear from you. You can share your ideas on what resources you would like to see us create next by filling out a survey (available in English, Danish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish) or joining one of the online calls to provide your input directly. You can also send us your suggestions in your preferred language via text or voice note on +31624815252. Do not hold back from sharing concrete, specific responses to the questions. Free-flowing thoughts and ideas are also welcome!

Join an online call to directly share with us your thoughts on the kinds of resources we should be developing over the coming year. You can register for the drop-in calls at the links below:

Please let us if you would like to attend a call and need language interpretation by email and we will do our best to arrange it.

Our survey will remain open until September 2024, as we know not everyone has yet had a chance to dig into the resources we produced last year. Please feel free to share the survey widely so we can get as many responses and perspectives as possible. If you have any questions or comments you can always email us at We look forward to hearing your ideas!

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