ARISA: Online Litigation Workshop on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Southern Africa

Advancing Rights in Southern Africa (ARISA)
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Monday, 9 November, 2020
Opportunity type: 
Call for proposals

Call Title: Participants: Online Litigation Workshop on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Southern Africa
Training Dates: 24-27 November 2020
With support from USAID, the PROGRESS Consortium is currently implementing the Advancing Rights in Southern Africa (ARISA) Program to improve the recognition, awareness, and enforcement of human rights in the region, including protection of the region’s most vulnerable and marginalized groups. The Progress Consortium is made up of Freedom House, the American Bar Association (ABA), Internews and PACT. The ARISA Program will run for a period of five (5) years with a focus on the following thematic issues which have been identified as crucial for the promotion of human rights in the region:

  • Women’s customary land rights;
  • Rights of indigenous populations;
  • Media freedoms and digital rights and;
  • The rights of human rights defenders as a cross-cutting theme.

To achieve its programme objectives, the ARISA program through the ABA will convene an online Litigation Workshop for identified legal practitioners, in particular those undertaking human rights litigation in or on behalf of civil society organizations and communities in Southern Africa, with a particular focus on those already litigating on or interested in litigating on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (IPRs). This will assist in equipping the legal practitioners with the requisite skills to undertake effective litigation in various fora in Southern Africa and beyond so as to protect Indigenous Peoples’ (IPs’) rights. To ensure targeted training of suitable lawyers, the ABA is calling for interested lawyers to apply for participation in the litigation workshop, which will take place over a period of four days from 24-27 November 2020.

Litigation Workshop
A Litigation Workshop involves the convening of participants for the purpose of building the capacity and skills of lawyers in identified areas, including strategic and access to justice litigation for redress of rights violations. The ABA/ARISA litigation workshop will specifically seek to build lawyers’ capacity to litigate in the area of IPRs, identify cases of IPRs violations and develop strategies for litigating on those cases. The workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to discuss and present cases that they are litigating on or intend to litigate on to peers and specialists/experts to allow discussion, analyses, feedback and strategies on how best to approach the cases.

The specific objectives of the Litigation Workshop are to:

  • Analyze IPs’ legal challenges and opportunities for redress in Southern Africa;
  • Analyze the relevant legal frameworks on the rights of IPs;
  • Identify and analyze cases relating to IPs’ rights that are ripe for litigation and can be filed with both national and regional courts and mechanisms;
  • Identify the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on IPRs, livelihoods and culture, and find creative remedies for rights violations. 
  • Provide participating lawyers with the practical skills and relevant knowledge to litigate using national and international laws as well as regional and international mechanisms relevant to IPRs;
  • Build a Southern African Regional Network of lawyers with an interest and expertise in litigating on IPRs so as to facilitate and enhance engagement with international legal mechanisms and global civil society initiatives;
  • Foster south-south cooperation and exchange of experiences and lessons learned on effective strategies for litigating on IPRs cases;
  • Develop collaborative and professional relationships amongst lawyers undertaking cases on women’s customary land rights and IPRs and;
  • Provide participants with information on resources, partnerships, ongoing support needed in filing cases and engaging in effective advocacy on indigenous people’s rights in Southern Africa. This will include information on available support from ARISA and the ABA.

The litigation workshop will focus on the following specific areas:

  • International legal frameworks for protecting IPRs;
  • National legal frameworks for protecting IPRs in Southern Africa;
  • Understanding key human rights issues of concern to IPs in Southern Africa;
  • The role of public interest litigation in promoting, protecting and enforcing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of IPs;
  • Opportunities and challenges for litigating on IPs’ rights;
  • The gendered aspect of IPRs and how to include and address these in public interest litigation;
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the enjoyment of IPRs in Southern Africa;
  • Working with and engaging affected/impacted communities in identifying cases for litigation and advocacy; and sustaining community interest in the cases; and
  • Identifying and litigating in the most appropriate fora (courts and tribunals; local/ national/ supranational, Human Rights Commissions, Ombudsmen, Administrative Authorities, etc.)

Format of the Training
The training will be delivered virtually to twelve lawyers from Southern Africa by two expert trainers. The Experts will facilitate sessions and provide guidance and mentoring during the workshop. The experts will also provide the participants with written material to engage with offline, prior to the online sessions.  Participants will be required to read the workshop material in advance, in order to ensure that the online sessions are interactive and encourage discussions. In addition to addressing questions during the online sessions, the experts will be available to provide offline mentoring to the participants over the course of the workshop. To encourage south-south cooperation, guest trainers will be invited to provide insights on promoting and protecting IPRs from other parts of the world. The participants will also receive strategic and technical expertise on cases that they will bring to the training to ensure that they are equipped to litigate on or seek alternative means of redress on the cases following the training.


IPs in the Southern Africa region face systemic assaults on their dignity and basic human rights. These include land displacement and dispossession due to resource extraction, government development projects and tourism, all of which lead to impoverishment. Indigenous communities face marginalization and non-recognition of their rights in laws and constitutions. They have limited access to justice to challenge the laws or secure redress for violations, and this exacerbates their situation.  Their traditional leadership systems are often disregarded and their indigenous knowledge systems trivialized. There are multiple forms of discrimination and exclusion, violations of cultural and language rights, political exclusion and non-participation, and inadequate access to public services such as health and education. Their marginalization has become stark in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID 19), which has exposed long term systemic discrimination of IPs.
There is therefore a need to foster an enabling environment for IPs to advocate for and exercise their rights and to create technical expertise amongst lawyers in Southern Africa to assist IPs in claiming these rights. In response to this need, the ARISA program seeks to build a cohort of lawyers who have the requisite skills and interest in litigating on behalf of IPs in the region. The envisaged Litigation Workshop is an important strategy in identifying and priming dedicated lawyers to undertake litigation as well as identify cases that can be used to protect, promote and enforce the rights of IPs in the region. At the end of the workshop, it is expected that ARISA in collaboration with local partners would have identified cases and key issues and; set a timeframe for intervention in those cases using various strategies, in particular litigation to secure rights protection through the courts.
Online Platform and Dates
The Litigation Workshop will take place online utilizing Zoom. The workshop will take place over a period of four (4) days from 24-27 November 2020, with the training running for 4 hours a day. The participants will be required to have access to the internet during the designated workshop days and ABA will provide financial support for the purchasing of data and lunch. ABA will also provide online interpretation services for Portuguese speaking participants.

ARISA through the American Bar Association will identify twelve (12) participants for the Litigation Workshop. To qualify, prospective participants must meet the following criteria:

  • Qualified lawyers who are practising in Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa:
  • Have been working directly on IPRs or are interested in litigating on IPRs and seek ABA’s support to build their litigation capacity in this area of human rights;
  • Willingness to join and actively participate in a pro bono network that will facilitate the referral of IPRs cases in Southern Africa;
  • Are working on/have a pending case before the courts or other fora or one that is ripe for litigation which ARISA can support through litigation, advocacy or trial monitoring; alternatively the participant should bring an issue that can lead to case development;
  • Do not have a pending case, but, express interest in receiving  mentoring support or technical assistance on indigenous people’s rights litigation;
  • Do not have experience litigating on indigenous people’s rights but demonstrate an interest  in the area  and seek ABA’s support to build their litigation capacity and;
  • Commitment to pursuing identified cases through litigation, trial monitoring or lodging with quasi-judicial institutions or administrative bodies within agreed timeframes.


Interested and qualified lawyers must submit their applications to by the 9th of November 2020. The application must contain a curriculum vitae and an application letter demonstrating the applicant’s interest and capacity to litigate on IPR’s. Applicants who have cases that are either before the courts or are ripe for litigation or facts of an IPR’s issue that can be developed into a case must submit the case information with their application. The applicant or his/her organization/law firm must be directly involved in the case.

NGO Services

NGO Services

NGO Events