The purpose of the capacity strengthening programmes are two-fold, aimed at strengthening our own capacity and that of our partners to be able to do strategic litigation effectively. The events enable us to learn about developments, emerging trends and to benefit from the guidance of experts and our partners’ expertise on what is happening in different countries across the continent. We also provide technical legal expertise to our partners. Our innovation is to work with specified individuals and institutions over a period of time with the aim of developing a pool of lawyers who can do strategic litigation on gender and sexuality matters. Most of our events are by invitation only. We do however reserve five seats for individuals who can demonstrate the importance and value of attending the events.
We have two main networks that enable us to provide technical legal expertise to the lawyers that we partner with.
Women’s Human Rights Network:
We are in the process of identifying ten partner organisations in ten countries, with the focus of litigating women’s human rights, to develop a network. We will work with our partner organisations to strengthen existing strategic litigation or establish new units and employ full time staff to work on strategic litigation. We provide ongoing support to our partner institutions and run regular capacity programmes, including litigation seminars, in-country visits and in depth litigation seminars on each thematic area of focus.
The partner selection process is ongoing. For more information contact us;
African Sexual Rights Lawyers Network:
The African Sexual Rights Lawyers Network is a network of African lawyers who work towards litigating sexual rights. The network works with lawyers who are in private practice as well as lawyers working for human rights organisations. We provide research support and facilitate the exchange of information between lawyers from various jurisdictions, and provide peer support to lawyers who sometimes face reprisals for taking on sexual rights cases. We link various social movements working on sexual rights with the network lawyers, to facilitate access to legal representation and to ensure that litigation strategies adopted by local movements are ably supported by lawyers.
Should you wish to become a member of the network, contact us for more information.
Capacity Strengthening Activities
We from time to time, visit our partners’ offices. These country visits enable our staff to meet with the partners in order to assist in the development of strategic litigation plans and to establish institutional support practices for supporting strategic litigation within these organisations. The visits also enable our staff to network and consult with partners and clients. Visits have an added component of establishing our networks (African Sexual Rights Lawyers Network and Women’s Human Rights Networks), by finding suitable local partners.
These are events that range from three to ten days. Litigation seminars are held for each of our thematic programmes with an aim to introduce lawyers to strategic litigation. The seminar includes workshops on case selection criteria, the different types of strategic litigation, identification of the violations, choosing the “right” client and facts, developing and supporting a case, crafting arguments, and remedies and implementation of decision. The seminars also focus on litigation before the African human rights systems in particular, the communication procedures of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. The seminars also focus on the substantive issues that can be litigated under the relevant programmes.
In-depth Litigation Seminars
These are follow-ups to the litigation seminars. Select individual lawyers who have made progress on their cases are invited to a more intensive session that focuses on each case that was presented and/or identifed during the initial litigation seminar, or otherwise came to the attention of the programme staff. The purpose of these seminars is to develop a litigation plan focusing on elaborating on the arguments to be made, evidence to be presented, comparative and international human rights standards to be relied upon, commenting on draft briefs, providing substantive input on the cases and setting time frames.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’s Rights Sessions
ISLA attends the sessions of the African Commission and works with groups working on its thematic issues, gender and sexuality, and those working to strengthen the communications procedure of the African Commission. ISLA also holds regular capacity strengthening programmes during the sessions of the African commission aimed at providing an introduction to using the communications procedure and the rules relating the exhaustion of domestic remedies.
These are events which are jointly convened by ISLA and partner institutions who have expertise on thematic issues that are part of our programmes. The events aim to facilitate a conversation based on specific and well-defined issues which are emerging, with the aim of encouraging strategic litigation. The focus could be on new legal instruments, legislation and/or constitution. Participants are drawn from academia, legal practices, non-governmental organisations and National Human Rights Institutions.
Strategy Consultation Meetings
The aim of these meetings is to facilitate conversations with a broad range of stakeholders particularly social movements. By convening these meetings we aim to establish where our interventions are needed. The focus is on clarifying our role on broadening access to legal representation, particularly for cases dealing with violations of sexual rights. We aim to facilitate a conversation about litigation and social movements and to empower movements to design and adopt litigation strategies which are sensitive to, and appropriate for the varied and complex contexts where these violations are taking place.
Expert Advisory Meetings on Violence Against Women
When introducing a new programme or reviewing an existing programme, we host expert advisory meetings where we draw select participants from our distinguished advisory council, members of academia, researchers, legal practitioners, activists and several distinguished individuals working before the international and the different regional human rights systems. The objective of these meetings is to seek input from this wide range of sources on the key issues, including standards that require development or elaboration through litigation. The meetings are also intended to specifically advise on appropriate issues and approaches for litigation, methodologies that we might employ in pursuing litigation of these issues, and identifying ways in which we might support work on our thematic areas of focus, mindful of its mandate and expertise.
Advisory Opinions Consultations
The African Court’s advisory opinion jurisdiction offers several benefits to human rights advocates. Since advisory jurisdiction is non-confrontational, those who request advisory opinions can avoid time-consuming, costly and contentious proceedings. The meetings are intended to assess progress on the filing of requests for advisory opinions, identify new questions requiring clarification and setting new targets for the processes of filing advisory opinions.
ISLA unboxed is a series of seven introductory meetings that will run on alternate Friday afternoons at ISLA offices. The purpose of the meetings is to introduce oursleves to various stakeholders and explore the potential for collaborations. The conversations are structured to get sector specific information on the nature of the collaborative work that is possible.
Partners, litigators, academics and activists are invited to our offices on Friday afternoon to talk about their work and litigation related developments that touch on our thematic areas of focus.