Building the power of organisations, movements, and collectives fighting for justice and equality

Communities should be able to make informed choices about how they want to incorporate litigation in their campaigns for change. Building the knowledge and power of organisations, movements, and collectives (OMCs) fighting for justice is a key strand of our work, as it allows communities to better decide if and how litigation can be used. We do this by:  

  • Developing resources on strategic litigation to assist in better understanding the different aspects of it and to help guide considerations on if or how litigation might be a tactic to include in campaigns for change;
  • Delivering workshops and trainings to assist those doing community-based or -facing work in better understanding strategic litigation as a tool for change and what it might do for their campaigns;  
  • Hosting drop-in calls to address community questions and assist in identifying support and resources, including for matters outside Systemic Justice’s scope of work. 

Resources on strategic litigation

The topics and format of the resources we develop are directly informed by the needs of the organisations, movements, and collectives we work with.

Systemic Justice completed an initial needs assessment in November 2022, collecting feedback in the form of a survey, drop-in calls, email questionnaires, and voice notes. The following subjects emerged as priority topics for learning and knowledge building:

  • What strategic litigation is and how to embed litigation into campaigns, activism and other advocacy activities, including examples of how it can bring about positive change;
  • Building a realistic litigation plan, and how to manage a case;
  • What to expect from the litigation process (i.e. what the steps are in the process); and
  • How to assess risk in taking on litigation.

The input we received emphasised the need for a diverse range of accessible resources and tools; including guides, factsheets, explainers, videos, podcasts, workshops, and drop-in clinics. Systemic Justice is committed to making all resources and tools accessible by design, and making them available in multiple formats and languages.

Our plans for 2023

Based on the input received, we are producing three resources in 2023:

  1. An Introduction to Strategic Litigation: this is a short guide on how court cases can play a role in campaigns for change. It will provide a simple introduction to the concept of litigation, the opportunities presented by it, how it can be used strategically, and what courts can do to push for systemic change. It will be illustrated with real-world examples of strategic litigation.
  2. A Legal Glossary: this is a short, accessible glossary of legal terms that communities might encounter when engaging in court cases related to their cause. It will be a handy translation tool for “lawyer speak,” which can often act as a barrier to engaging with litigation as a tool for change. The glossary will be produced for several European jurisdictions and will be country specific.
  3. A Strategy and Risk Navigation Tool: this is a toolkit to help communities work through some of the baseline questions that come up when deciding if and how litigation can play a role in their campaigns for change, and whether it is something they should actively pursue in light of its opportunities and risks. It is not meant as a substitute for legal advice, but will be a useful starting point for conversations with your community.

Across all three projects, we aim to build interactive and accessible resources in multiple languages. We will also organise workshops to talk through the resources and how they can be used by organisations, movements, and collectives in their work.

We will regularly re-consult organisations, movements, and collectives working on racial, social, and economic justice issues to ensure that these resources directly benefit their work. The next consultation will take place in Summer 2023, so if you are interested in sharing input please get in touch.

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