Since 2004, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has supported programs to increase Chinese capacity to advocate for citizens’ rights. ABA ROLI is working with local partners to identify and begin to address legislative, structural, organizational, financial and other barriers to effective broad-based advocacy in a variety of substantive areas. This involves working to strengthen the Chinese bar, so that it can effectively advocate for citizens’ rights and for the rule of law. ABA ROLI has worked with bar associations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), law schools and legal aid providers to support the development of public interest litigation and effective legal advocacy and to identify and overcome impediments to pro bono legal work.
Since 1998, ABA ROLI has worked closely with courts, universities, and civil society organizations to promote women’s rights and increase access to justice for victims of domestic violence. Through support for a protection order pilot project to protect DV victims, support for law school-based DV legal aid clinics that provide free services for victims of DV, and support for DV awareness campaigns, ABA ROLI and partners have worked to ensure greater access to justice for victims of abuse. See “Women’s Rights” tab for more information about our work in this area.
Enabling civil society advocacy & strengthening legal aid
For many years, ABA ROLI has worked to strengthen the capacity of environmental CSOs to incorporate legal tools into their advocacy efforts, including pursuit of new openings in legislation. We provide specialized legal training and resource support to grassroots organizations working to improve their local justice system’s response to environmental pollution victims. ABA ROLI and its partners conduct training workshops on technical legal issues and on the collection and assessment of evidence, and support field investigations in rural villages that are plagued by excessive pollution.
To encourage the next generation of public interest lawyers, we collaborate with CSOs and law schools to develop practical skills training for law students and provide additional support to frontline public interest organizations. ABA ROLI supports law school clinical programs to raise rights awareness, provide legal aid to rural communities, and create new legal aid models to better meet the needs of rural communities. Our environmental clinical program trains law students to support the work of environmental CSOs to protect pollution victims.
ABA ROLI has also focused on building the capacity of disabled persons organizations (DPOs) to incorporate legal advocacy tools into their work. ABA ROLI works with DPOs to develop legal advocacy skills and strategies, provides training to improve the delivery of legal services to persons with disabilities, and works to foster a global network of legal resources. Our CSO partners have subsequently developed a legal advocacy manual for DPOs and have implemented additional trainings for DPOs and advocates, substantial contributions to an effective network of CSOs committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
ABA ROLI also works with China’s LGBT CSOs to build their capacity to raise awareness of issues affecting the LGBT community and to effectively advocate for the rights of their members. ABA ROLI is working with local partners to develop a series of lawyer trainings, national stakeholder conferences, and advocacy handbooks all geared towards promoting LGBT rights consciousness among public interest lawyers and key legislative stakeholders. Our work with these partners aims to foster a strong nationwide community of LGBT advocates dedicated to protecting and promoting LGBT rights. Finally, ABA ROLI works to improve the core institutional capacities of its CSO partners in order to ensure the long-term, sustainable impact of our programs. By providing training on programmatic management and strategic planning, ABA ROLI strengthens and sustains its partners’ ability to engage in meaningful public interest work, provide legal services, and educate the public.