ANLEP- Academic Network on legal Empowerment of the Poor

ANLEP was established in 2007 at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo in Norway, and it has grown into a great resource for LEP scholarly work. 
The main purpose of ANLEP is to undertake research and disseminate research findings on selected topics that have been crucial to the work of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, including a focus on access to justice and rule of law, labour and property rights, socio-economic and political empowerment of women and human rights-based pro-poor governance.

This will be undertaken through a variety of activities which include workshops, joint publications, short-term exchange programme for faculty, doctoral courses on legal empowerment and visits by doctoral students from Europe and developing countries to partner institutions of the ANLEP network. ANLEP was established in May 2007, and is headed by Dr. Dan Banik,, from the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo.

Within the website you can find scholarly articles, event/workshop listings and notes, a list of cross-border folks interested in Legal Empowerment issyes, and a link to Dr. Banik’s book (Dan Banik (ed.) Rights and Legal Empowerment in Eradicating Poverty, London: Ashgate.). Of particular interest to me are the following two articles (but look at the site for more updated literature!)
·         Li-ann Thio, 'Unpacking the Human Right to Development: The 2007 ASEAN Charter and Legal Empowerment Trajectories', ANLEP Working Paper No. 1 (2009) (pdf)
·         Dan Banik, 'Legal Empowerment as a Conceptual and Operational Tool in Poverty Eradication', Hague Journal on the Rule of Law (2009) (pdf)

Professional Development Courses for Law and Development Practitioners

Younger practitioners sometimes ask me if there are good Law and Development Courses to recommend, as a part of their professional development. I myself have had the same questions for years, and for want of an answer, usually end up self-educating. What I find is that Law and Development is such a broad field, and often conceptually contentious on so many levels, that it is hard to recommend one course that is all encompassing. Moreover, most practitioners come from many backgrounds- a lawyer might need more training in project management and general international development, while a generalist might need more concrete legal training. Sometimes, a specific focus is necessarily- a legal field, a geographical area, a type of intervention, or working with specific donors. 

With those caveats, the UN Rule of Law Unit maintains a broad (ie. non-UN) database of non-academic Rule of Law Courses for practitioners. It builds the database from user recommendations.  Some links to training courses are reproduced below (Please do submit a course if you find that it might be useful for others!):

Virtual Technology Summer Camp for Nonprofits

Charity Dynamics, a young, cool group is hosting a free Summer Camp for Nonprofits webinar series. The six-part series runs from June 22 through August 11 and presents topics ranging from social media fundraising and website optimization to special events and open APIs. The sessions are free but you need to register for the series here: 

(UPDATE 8/25: Now that the webinars are over, you can access them on-demand on Charity Dynamics' website here. I do love how this younger world is evolving...)

User-centric Design and the Rise of the New Generation

I chanced upon this comic on and thought that it's so to-the-point that I can't help but want to repost it. So I thought I wanted to illustrate a few points with this post: 

1. Don't just make a website/software tool/development project/chair, ask what your target audience wants:

University Website

2. This new generation that grew up with the internet is facing a vastly different world (socially, and commercially) than we 9-5'ers knew. There are so many implications for future trends, as explored by many writers like Tom Friedman (The World is Flat, especially) and Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine editor and author of 'The Long Tail'). It continues to strike me how true many of their observations are. Think about these trends from the point of view of the Google start up, Youtube, eBay, Amazon, etc. And it all begins with small humble beginnings like this one, from XKCD's about page

(Might XKCD become a millionaire one day from developing a comic app for the iphone?! I won't hesitate to invest in him)
 Who are you?
I'm just this guy, you know? I'm a CNU graduate with a degree in physics. Before starting xkcd, I worked on robots at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. As of June 2007 I live in Massachusetts. In my spare time I climb things, open strange doors, and go to goth clubs dressed as a frat guy so I can stand around and look terribly uncomfortable. At frat parties I do the same thing, but the other way around.
Where did all this start?

I was going through old math/sketching graph paper notebooks and didn't want to lose some of the work in them, so I started scanning pages. I took the more comic-y ones and put them up on a server I was testing out, and got a bunch of readers when BoingBoing linked to me. I started drawing more seriously, gained a lot more readers, started selling t-shirts on the site, and am currently shipping t-shirts and drawing this comic full-time. It's immensely fun and I really appreciate y'all's support.

FAO and ILO picks up on Legal Empowerment of the Poor concept

The concept of 'Legal Empowerment of the Poor' is spreading like wildfire. Today, Google returned '"about 115,000 results" when I queried the term. Even the FAO and ILO have picked up the concept in their literature. (Food and Agricutural Organization and International Labor Organization, both also UN agencies, respectively)  A colleague at FAO’s Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESWD) forwarded me their position statement on the concept, called "Legal Empowerment of the Poor: a Pathway out of Poverty", which you can access online here on the AFO/ILO partnership website

The FAO is insistent that, "Whether labelled as legal empowerment or not, FAO’s work in land tenure, forestry and fisheries management has long focused on enabling, participatory and community-based approaches." and that "Poverty is not inevitable, it is man made. We have to continue to support the legal empowerment process and ensure that its two faces – bottom-up empowerment of people and legal and institutional reforms – continue together in a systemic and coherent manner."

Harvard Law School Hosts workshop on (June 17th & 18th)

Two event announcements about this US initiative to promote access to primary legal materials, ie legal materials in their 'raw', legalistic form. Law.Gov is an effort to create a report documenting exactly what it would take to create a distributed registry and repository of all primary legal materials in the United States (read more at Does the concept even makes sense? There are currently a lot of interesting debates taking place. Massachusetts
Thursday, June 17th, 2010, 10:00am-3:00pm
Harvard Law School

Do we have access to all primary legal materials in Massachusetts? What are the best practices for making information accessible?  What obstacles face institutions trying to make it available?  Our hope is to create a document outlining the most salient issues in accessibility to Massachusetts legal information with suggestions of things that could be done to effect the most accessible system possible in Massachusetts Putting it Together
Friday, June 18th, 2010, 10:00am-3:00pm
Harvard Law School

The Harvard Law School Law.Gov workshop on June 18 is the last in a 6-month series of such workshops that have taken place throughout the country.  In this final workshop, participants will discuss the implications of some core principles about access to primary legal materials. Are these principles workable? What will it take to make them real? What are the implications of these principles? Our hope is that upon completion of this workshop, a crisp set of basic principles can be presented and discussed, perhaps leading to the enactment of some of these principles into policy through mechanisms such as judicial rules, executive orders, or legislation. This is the second day of a two-day workshop focused on 

Registration and agenda details for these two events are as follows: