Vivek Maru: How to put the power of law in people's hands
Vivek Maru is the founder of Namati, a movement for legal empowerment around the world powered by cadres of grassroots legal advocates. Full bio
Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.
to protect his safety.
of herdspeople in Gujarat
his entire community was forced to move
on the land where they lived.
the same company built a cement factory
environmental regulations on paper,
has violated many of them.
covers Ravi's mustache
and I coughed for a week.
eat anything that grows in his village
long distances with cattle and buffalo
have dropped out of school,
to the company for years.
my family could cremate me with them.
every one of those letters,
the last means of protest
with a bucket of petrol in his hands,
without basic access to justice.
to their safety, their livelihoods,
that would protect these people,
never heard of those laws,
to enforce those laws
epidemic of injustice,
on 50-year lease agreements,
they've ever known for a pittance
are raising their children
their air and their water.
that would protect these people,
to have decided that's OK.
that hold us together.
ruled by the most powerful
the dignity of everyone,
my grandmother 20 years ago
She didn't skip a beat.
and lawyers has gone wrong.
expensive, first of all,
on formal court channels
for many of the problems people face.
in a cloak of complexity.
there's something human underneath.
a reality for everyone,
from an abstraction or a threat
can understand, use and shape.
in that fight, no doubt,
on doctors to serve patients.
and community health workers.
the communities they serve.
look for a solution.
local government, an ombudsman's office.
we're both going to grow."
saved my own relationship to law.
I almost dropped out.
have listened to my grandmother.
working with paralegals
about the law again,
the gates of that factory
before he could follow through.
of community paralegals
on the Gujarat coast.
that there was law on his side.
something Ravi had never seen.
with specific conditions.
the legal requirements with reality,
but to two administrative institutions,
and the district administration.
the creaky wheels of enforcement.
came for a site inspection,
started running an air filtration system
been using all along.
from that plant every day.
reduced the air pollution considerably.
walking alongside people like Ravi
a thousand organizations
tens of thousands of community paralegals.
who faces a discriminatory vetting process
in the United States.
for eight years, without success.
working in her community
how vetting works,
the documents she needed,
the vetting committee.
with Hassan's help.
for birth certificates for her children,
among many other problems,
in housing court have attorneys,
Access to Justice Navigators --
and to advocate for themselves.
brought to housing court
from these paralegals,
can go a long way.
a single dollar of support
the role paralegals play,
to give you the impression
win every time.
the filtration system at night,
that the company would get caught.
of the polluted night sky.
Ravi went on hunger strike.
the United States or anywhere else,
out of broken systems
to support and protect
around the world,
is working in practice.
of the system as a whole.
to laws and policies.
have drawn on their case experience
for the handling of minerals.
are using data from thousands of cases
of approaching reform.
flying into Myanmar
to cut and paste from Macedonia,
from the experience of ordinary people
between people and law
great challenges of our times.
to the land and the water,
or expanding opportunity
their basic rights.
politicians prey upon
to ask permission to share his story.
he wanted to give people.
fight using law rather than guns.
maybe not in five years,
is being poisoned every single day,
"fighting with paper"
version of democracy
every few years,
and institutions that hold us together,
even the least powerful,
what the Sustainable Development Goals are
and strong institutions.
the Millennium Development Goals?
and governments around the world,
by two thirds, cut hunger in half,
of justice or fairness
during the 15 years
what justice demands,
unless we take justice into account.
about the next development framework,
around the world
and legal empowerment
more contentious than the other ones,
whether it was going to come through.
commits to access to justice for all,
Let's clap for justice.
by big commitments:
from the Gates Foundation
for health care for women and children.
we had the words on the paper,
and the challenge that we face right now.
development without justice,
if they can't exercise their rights,
is turn that rhetoric,
What can people in this room do?
or a hundred dollars, a million dollars,
towards grassroots legal empowerment.
everything else we care about.
to make this a public priority.
access to justice
that a government owes its people,
or poor countries.
be a paralegal in your own life.
or a problem where you live.
the city where you live?
less than minimum wage
to get a solution.
come together to improve those rules.
using law and shaping law,
that deeper version of democracy
VM: Thank you.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERVivek Maru - Legal empowerment advocate
Vivek Maru is the founder of Namati, a movement for legal empowerment around the world powered by cadres of grassroots legal advocates.
Why you should listen
More than four billion people around the world live outside the protection of the law. Vivek Maru founded Namati in 2011 to grow the movement for legal empowerment, building cadres of grassroots legal advocates, also known as "community paralegals," in ten countries so far. The advocates have worked with more than 65,000 people to protect community lands, enforce environmental law and secure basic rights to healthcare and citizenship. Namati convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, more than 1,000 groups from 150 countries who are learning from one another and collaborating on common challenges. Thanks to their work, access to justice is part of the UN's new global development framework, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
From 2003 to 2007, Maru co-founded and co-directed the Sierra Leonean organization Timap for Justice, a pioneering model for delivering justice services in the context of a weak state and a plural legal system. From 2008 to 2011, he served as senior counsel in the Justice Reform Group of the World Bank. His work focused on rule of law reform and governance, primarily in West Africa and South Asia. In 1997–1998 he lived in a hut of dung and sticks in a village in Kutch, his native place, in western India, working on watershed management and girls' education with two grassroots development organizations, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sanghathan and Sahjeevan.
Vivek Maru | Speaker | TED.com