The global Pledge that is uniting the legal community to increase access to justice for refugees and others forcibly displaced.
From providing legal advice to refugee-led initiatives in Asia, training refugees and others forcibly displaced to know their rights in countries of asylum around the world and promoting the importance of legal assistance to those displaced within their staff, with clients and other actors, global and local law firms are stepping up to partner with local legal actors to address the unmet legal needs of displaced individuals and communities. A joint pledge made by over 80 legal and refugee rights actors at the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019 is uniting these actors and building a movement to improve access to justice for those that experience displacement. As part of this movement, in 2020, law firms provided over 127,000 pro bono hours, surpassing the hours they had committed to at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum, while local legal actors provided countless hours of legal assistance to address the diverse legal needs of refugees and others forcibly displaced.
Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, PILnet is pleased to share the “Global Refugee Forum Legal Community Pledge – 2020 Progress Report.” Jointly developed by core group members of the Global Refugee Forum Legal Community and many of the signatories to the Pledge, the report outlines and highlights the impressive progress made in the first year of implementation of the Pledge.
For the UNHCR press release on this report, click here.
- A group of individuals and NGOs that initiated the pledge established the Global Refugee Forum Legal Community Pledge Core Group (‘the Core Group’), to guide the direction of the pledge and undertake activities to support its implementation, growth and sustainability.
- Within a more connected global legal community, both public and private sector signatories moved quickly to adapt legal assistance programmes and pro bono projects to accommodate COVID-19 related restrictions, allowing pledgers to continue to reach refugees and others forcibly displaced and supporting the private legal community signatories to surpass the pro bono commitments made at the GRF.
- The Core Group developed reporting tools to support monitoring of the implementation of the GRF Legal Community Pledge and began to track pro bono hours dedicated to improving access to justice for refugees and others forcibly displaced. This will allow the Core Group to take stock each year of the scale of refugee rights pro bono globally and to track the implementation and impact of the pledge.
- The Core Group partnered with UNHCR to develop and disseminate tools to support refugee-led organizations and NGOs to scope pro bono projects to address the unmet legal needs of displaced communities.
- With support from the Core Group, refugee-led organizations and NGOs pitched a broad range of new pro bono projects that were matched with law firms, unlocking millions of dollars worth of legal services, provided for free.
- Private sector law firms became greater champions for the rights of refugees, including through increasing awareness about the importance of access to justice for refugees and others forcibly displaced within their own staff and with private and public sector clients.