Localizing the GRF Legal Community Pledge
Those that joined the Global Refugee Forum Legal Community Pledge committed to support the development of stronger national capacity within the legal community and pro bono culture in the jurisdictions in which they work.
In line with this commitment, in 2021, PILnet and other Core Group members worked with a Thai lawyer to facilitate six workshops with local legal and refugee actors to co-design a collaborative refugee rights pro bono project in Thailand. The resulting collaborative model, which aims to strengthen national capacity and pro bono culture, including by enhancing coordination and partnership building amongst the legal community and the refugee community at a national level, was launched in February 2022. The initiative is a pilot project and will test the impact that providing financial and technical support for the development of a national level coordination mechanism has on the localization of Pledge commitments.
The initiative, hosted by the Refugee Rights Litigation Project, and guided by an advisory council drawn from the Thai legal and refugee sector, has already developed a roster of lawyers from national, regional and international firms and facilitated thirteen pro bono matches. Matches have included both legal support for individual cases, such as assisting a refugee in Thailand with legal research on Moroccan Family Law, and legal support for the organizational needs of RLOs and NGOs, including assistance to register RLOs as local foundations in Thailand.
On 3 September 2022, 30 pro bono lawyers from the roster participated in the first of a series of training sessions. The morning featured a keynote speech by Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn on the situation of refugees in Thailand. This was followed by presentations on the general overview of refugee protection in Thailand, provided by Su-Aida Pitsuwan (UNHCR Thailand) and on legal ethics in refugee protection, provided by Yuhanee Jehka (HOST International). The afternoon featured interactive group discussions where participants had a chance to practically apply their knowledge.