Using Strategic Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution to protect Women land ownership and property rights in Albania

Using Strategic Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution to protect Women land ownership and property rights in Albania

Albanie
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The overall objective of this proposed action to develop a better and comprehensive understanding, legal framework improvement and application of women land ownership and property rights through strategic litigation, alternative dispute resolution and entrepreneurial capacity development of women at local level in the sub-urban and rural communities of southern Albania.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

1.Government of Albania acknowledges the adverse impact of economic restructuring and privatization on women’s entrepreneurship and reflect this in broad policy and legal instruments. In Albania, a strategy for the development of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) is being developed, though not one that specifically addresses women’s needs. The recent Gender Parity Law (2008) intends to guarantee women’s equal access to services. Despite the above, the policy environment suffers from the following weaknesses: (i) limited enforcement of gender policies and legislation, (ii) only partial reflection of gender equality principles within agriculture and rural development sector and access to land polices and strategies (iii) insufficient organizational mechanisms for the observance of norms of gender equality, and (iv) a weak statistics base that does not allow for a breakdown of data by sex. 2.Unresolved land property issues in the coastal area of Albania hinder the legal certainty of ownership necessary for a viable land market.The whole process of restitution and compensation is moving too slowly due to delays in setting up new structures of the Property Restitution.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Issues and problems related to law enforcement on property rights, and rule of law in Albania in general are not new during last twenty years. The issues get more complex and complicated when consequences of rights' infringements are combined with problems of divorce, emigration, single parenting, domestic violence and poverty. Few significant steps are taken to improve woman's rights in Albania, but the progress scored so far remains insufficient to guarantee dignity and opportunity for all citizens, and moreover for women in rural areas in particular. Recent economic progress is hindered quite often by legislation and regulatory framework gaps and as several cases have shown women remain a vulnerable and mostly affected category in land ownership disputes. There are no records on implementation of strategic litigation focused on women rights and property issues at the same time in Albania. By using this method, the goal is to provide court practice that it will be used strategically for improving domestic legislation on land ownership and property rights in Albania. Through strategic litigation, it is aimed to contribute effectively and in concrete terms on enforcing the respective gender parity legislation. Alternative Dispute Resolution:Court proceeding and the respective litigation on land ownership are quite time-consuming and expensive for rural/suburban women in Albania. The practice is hindered because of the professional capacity and resources of the judiciary. Hence, the idea consists in providing to targeted population aid that will resolve the issues by using legal tools within or outside the court.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The process of compensation is considered a failure, due to the absolute lack of the necessary sub-legal acts that define the ways, procedures and regulations of the compensation. These acts were never passed, except from certain acts that regulate compensation issues for coastal areas or other tourist zones that in reality were used mostly for abusive reasons (political/economic interests and corruption) than for solving the problem itself. As it is mentioned in a World Bank report (2005), there is a risk that informal and corrupt transactions continue to dominate even if the Government is now trying to implement the law adopted in July 2004,which includes key policy choices. In fact, extra-legal actions, such as occupation of land in towns mainly by migrants from the countryside and the mountains, who try to preserve their occupant status, e.g. by threatening to apply force on the former owners if evicted and allegedly pay judges to here is a risk that informal and corrupt transactions continue to dominate. The project relies on the assumed high impact the guarantee and application of a fundamental/constitutional right such is :land ownership, has for the individual and society in general. This high impact is visible by measuring poverty and economic growth in rural areas, agriculture development, foreign direct investments, employment, mobility and family stability. The project idea brings on a very important issue such as gender parity in land ownership transactions.
About You
Organization:
Studio D - Legal & Strategic Research
Section 1: About You
First Name

Admir

Last Name

Duraj

Website
Country

, TR

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name

Studio D - Legal & Strategic Research

Organization Phone

+35542263604, +355 68 208 5 208

Organization Address

Rruga Mine Peza P.O.Box 7447

Organization Country

, TR

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, VL

Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Actions

Most successful public interest efforts use a comprehensive approach and litigation is but one of a number of components of the campaign. Questions asked when deciding whether to pursue litigation and to enable a sustainable in the public interest include the following:
a. Is there a law or regulation on the books that is not being applied or enforced?
b. Has the application of a certain law by the courts or government officials been even handed, or has the application been arbitrary and inconsistent?
c. Have there been significant or pervasive legal restrictions on the exercise of individual rights and freedoms?
d. Do international standards exist that could be used to influence state action?
e. What is the likelihood that further clarification of the law(s) in question would have negative effects on the public interest problem?
f. What resources (human, financial, political) are necessary to accomplish the public interest aims?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE-dsPt7b14&feature=related

Results

The proposed impact of project will be enhanced rural women’s economic empowerment in identified region of Vlora. The outcome will be increased knowledge by government, and other development partners about effective ways to review and enforce land ownership legislation, and incorporate gender equality and women’s entrepreneurship considerations into the design and implementation of the respective public policies.The outputs will be as follows: (i) comparative analysis of major legal constraints to, and opportunities for, rural women’s entrepreneurship in agriculture-related activities in the selected area; (ii) policy, organizational capacity development, and strengthening of women’s associations (i.e., women’s self-help groups, community and non government organizations [and networks; (iii) a portfolio of proposals and recommendations for improving relevant laws developed by practicing strategic litigation and alternative dispute resolution; and (iv) a publication summarizing the findings of the comparative analysis and the achievements of the intervention by emphasizing best international practices of strategic litigation and adr.

How many people will your project serve annually?

1001‐10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$50 - 100

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

If so, how?

This project seeks to have a very significant impact on policy-making process and the respective implementation process by:
• Monitoring court proceedings on land disputes with particular focus on execution of restitution and compensation remedies;
• Analysing legal and regulatory gaps and the implementation of gender parity standards and recommending reviews and improvements of the respective laws and policies;
• Acquiring and codifying know-how on strategic litigation practice;
• Empowering women groups and community organisations in rural areas to monitor the implementation of gender parity principle in land ownership rights and entrepreneurship;
• Increasing public awareness on the use of alternative dispute resolution as an effective tool for sustainable community development.
• Improving local governance and decision-making in rural areas in Albania.

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation.

in undertaking this initiative the following established partnerships will be used in order to acquire and deepen the know-how, discuss and review plan of activities as well as in formulating policy and legal options as recommendations for practice improvement:
Institut für Anwaltsrecht an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
National Bar Association - Albania
Laboratoire de Droit Economique - University of Luxembourg
Centre de Droit Européen - University of Luxembourg
Association of Judges - Albania
Tirana Law School

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

Overall objective: to develop a better and comprehensive understanding, legal framework improvement and application of women land ownership and property rights through strategic litigation, alternative dispute resolution and entrepreneurial capacity development of women at local level in the sub-urban and rural communities of southern Albania.
Main activities
1. Establishing the project implementation team and adapting the training needs analysis
2. Assessing the needs target groups [questionnaire & focus groups]
3. Conducting training sessions on Strategic litigation, ADR, and the international standards on land ownership rights
4. Organising a national forum on ‘Strategic Litigation for Women Land Ownership in Albania’
5. Drafting guidelines/training manual on “‘Strategic Litigation for Women Land Ownership in Albania”
6. Inception of the strategic litigation practice, ADR practice and of the E-learning Programme for human rights organisations: “Promoting land ownership rights for women and alternative dispute resolution”
Constrains & problems
Albania has good human capacities for land ownership (women) rights advocacy & litigation , but there is to a certain degree a lack of experience in using human resources for effective strategic litigation and ADR practice, which has to be built up during the implementation of the respective action plan;
 Mitigation measure: The training workshops are designed as activities that aim professional growth of individuals involved in human rights advocacy. This professional growth will be based on training & professional knowledge on strategic litigation, ADR and its relevance to women land ownership issues, but also on using e-learning options in participating actively in legislation review and enforcement;
The Project aims to ensure continuation and sustainability by engaging the following financial resources:
 E-learning course fee [ kept at modest level to cover only administrative].
 Advertising local businesses and services on the e-learning web-portal; Sponsorships of local business/government for specific thematic courses.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

State of play: In post-communist Albania a long series of legal instruments were enacted for the ascertainment of property rights, including restitution/compensation of properties including here agricultural land, confiscated during the communist period. A vast number of cases about conflicting claims between new owners and/or the State on one side and former owners on the other side arose and the majority of them still wait to be resolved in a legally, socially [mediation] and financially effective way. The case law includes judgments of the Constitutional Court, while the first crop of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights has already found serious deficiencies of the judicial and administrative system of the country in respect of property restitution and compensation of former owners.
Implementation problems: The whole process is moving too slowly due to delays in setting up new structures of the Property Restitution and Compensation Agency both at central level and in regional departments. In addition, the State-owned land is too small, in comparison with the amount of land supposed to be compensated. Informal and corrupt transactions still dominate, although the Government is now trying to implement the law adopted in 07/2004 that reflects key policy choices.
Problems related to political and social deficiencies: The difficulty in finding effective solutions for property restitution and compensation of former owners and in subsequently implementing them is tightly linked to the post-Communist political situation in the country and the ensuing social and economic instability which, in the particular matter of real property, is deep-rooted in strong divergences among the various groups of population and their politicians. Restitution of land to former owners is viewed by many as if it would recreate a feudal ownership structure, while former land owners and collective farm workers differ strongly on their support to reform policies. However, there is a widely supported consensus that the situation can significantly improve through introduction/enforcement of new legal instruments [harmonised with EU and international standards], legislative review and application of alternative dispute resolution methods.
More: http://www.tepsa.eu/index.asp?ID=40

Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.

Admir Duraj is working as a volunteer (Adviser/trainer) on projects related to legislative and justice reforms, good governance and human rights at the Studio D – Centre for Legal & Strategic Research since May 2007 . He studied Law at University of Shkoder, Albania and specialized in EU Law, Policies and Multi-level Governance through a master’s degree programme at University of Bologna [2002]. Admir Duraj has a more than ten years of professional experience consisting on legal advisory and consulting services, technical assistance on project development and implementation, teaching and legislative drafting, institutional analysis and regional development. His previous experiences imply a number of well-known national, regional, and international institutions, agencies and organizations such as: University of Tirana, Government of Albania (Ministry of EU integration) European Commission, United Nations Development Programme, World Intellectual Property Organization etc. Duraj is a member of National Bar Association [AL] since 2004, while associate member of The Society of Legal Scholars [UK] 2008 and is currently teaching ‘EU Competition Law’ at University of Tirana, Graduate School of Economics. He speaks fluently English and Italian.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another source, please provide the information.

Approximately 50 words left (400 characters).

Additional
Which (if any) of the following strategies apply to your organization or company (check as many as apply)

Policy advocacy to strengthen property rights or increase security of tenure, Formalizing and documenting property rights (i.e. titling, leasing or certification), Legal education and awareness, Developing/applying technology for surveying, mapping and documenting property rights.

Please explain how your work furthers one or many of the above strategies (if you selected “other”, please explain your strategy)

The project seeks to build a sustainable partnership with Universities in order to institutionalize the ADR practice and the e-learning process and guarantee standards and quality.The project aims at an effective monitoring of legislation enforcement and land ownership policy implementation process by women organizations and their participation at the respective debate on legislation improvements.