It seems the Legal Empowerment of the Poor has become some kind of a new and exciting development fad to be checked out, given the recent establishment of the UN Commission of Legal Empowerment of the Poor. First the World Bank held a series of Justice for Peace events, and also commissioned a strategy paper on the the topic. (UPDATE 5/30: which you can view the paper via this post). Now USAID has contracted ARD to study the same issue.
Might this really turn out to be the new Development kid on the block, up-seating the current reign of 'Rule of Law'? What surprises me is that this is not a new field- it has been around for as long as local, grassroots NGOs have been, working with issues of poverty, some of which can be addressed using legal means. My worry is that, with the big aid agencies giving this so much attention, it becomes yet another promising 'field' of development, evoking independently of other sectors or being the 'flavor' of the month without much concern with realities or long term potential. Let's see how this all evolves- the Commission will be meeting later this month for the first time.