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From legal caravans to revising the Mining Code: Lessons from experience with legal empowerment in communities affected by mining, Mali

In Mali, political democratisation marked the start of a process to establish a legal system that takes account of the interests of all citizens. Widespread illiteracy, severe poverty and a lack of legal awareness have not been conducive to creating ownership of legal reforms at the local level, however, especially in rural areas.

The Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche en Sociologie et Droit Appliqué (GERSDA) responded to this situation, by developing a programme to strengthen the capacity of rural people to exercise their legal rights. Activities focused on communities affected by mining, where legal and capacity issues are particularly urgent.

A central component of this work is the ‘legal caravan’ – a legal literacy training and advisory facility that travels around rural areas. The legal caravan uses problems identified by local actors to demystify the law in local languages. It also facilitates local debate on what ‘law’ is, and raises local awareness about legal rights and procedures to exercise them. The legal caravans were complemented by legislative studies, development of learning materials, support to community paralegals, rural radio programmes and input into the revision of Mali’s Mining Code.

This paper has been produced under IIED’s Legal tools for citizen empowerment project.

This publication forms part of IIED’s work to identify pathways towards inclusive and responsible mining.

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Publication information

  • IIED code: G03762
  • Published: Mar 2014 - IIED
  • Area: Mali
  • Theme: Law
  • Languages: English, français

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