Advancing the Right to Citizenship

Tools and Resources for Legal Empowerment Advocates

Birth certificates, driver’s licenses, national identity cards, passports…. Many of us give little thought to these pieces of paper and plastic, yet they are among the most valuable items we own. These legal documents confirm our citizenship. They enable us to enroll in school, access healthcare, secure accommodation, and attain employment.

And yet millions of people around the world are unjustly denied legal documents. Without a legal identity, they are excluded from society and denied opportunity.  

Grassroots legal advocates can help people overcome this injustice. Mahmoud Abdullah Hussein of Kenya spent five years losing out on work because he could not secure an ID card due to his Nubian heritage. A grassroots legal advocate helped him obtain the document in two months. 

Last year, over 20 advocates working for citizenship rights across 15 countries came together to learn from one another. Here are resources that were shared at that gathering, including a toolkit for protecting refugee rights from Asylum Access and a paper on how to measure access to legal identity from Open Society Foundations.  

Also below: stories of people from historically excluded communities in Kenya and Bangaldesh exercising their right to citizenship, and live conversations among network members, which we invite you to join.

Thank you for being part of this vibrant community dedicated to legal empowerment. Together, we can secure for everyone the most foundational human right: citizenship.


Latest Resources

Legal Identity and the Global Goals
Goal 16.9 of the United Nations global goals for sustainable development calls
for states to provide "legal identity for all, including birth registration" by 2030. 

This report by Open Society Foundations 
discusses how progress against that goal can be measured, drawing on recent 
research conducted in Kenya.
Refugee Rights Toolkit

The Refugee Rights Toolkit was created by Asylum Access and is comprised of best practices culled from literature, lessons learnt by Asylum Access’s staff and partners, and helpful materials, templates, and resources to support leaders in refugee rights.
Statelessness Working Papers

Reports from the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion on: the impact of gender discrimination on legal identity in Nepal; the voices of Vietnamese children in Cambodia; and statelessness in the Arabian Gulf and before the UN's compensation bodies.
Landmark Judgements from Bangladesh

Namati, Council of Minorities, and Nagorik Uddyog, have translated two landmark High Court rulings from Bangladesh on the legal status of Urdu-speaking Bangladeshis into Bengali and easy-to-understand language. Paralegals can use these on their outreach in the camps for Urdu-speakers.

Namati's resource library contains hundreds of other legal empowerment resources, including this easy-to-adapt case tracking form and this ice-breaking exercise for use when beginning a training session for paralegals. 
Search All Resources

Stories from the Frontline
Justice and Identity in Kibera

A compilation of personal stories from the streets of Nairobi's largest informal settlement. Nubian Kenyan paralegals are helping their community confront the discrimination and corruption that deprives them of their identity rights.

Mr Hossain Gets a Loan

Nadim Hossain lives in a camp in Khulna
in Bangladesh. He turned to a community paralegal for help when his application for a trade license was rejected because of his Urdu ethnicity.

Community Discussions
Can Punitive Laws Increase Birth Registration?
Mustafa Mahmoud of the Nubian Rights Forum sparked a debate on the Legal Empowerment Network's Community Discussion platform - Have your say.
How to Measure Legal Identity for All

The latest discussion on indicators being generated for the Global Goal on universal legal identity. What do you think the statisticians need to include? Have your say.

Join the Discussions

In solidarity, 
Laura, Mustafa, Vivek and the whole team supporting the legal empowerment network 


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