Italian NGOs Learn to Use Strategic Litigation for Social Change

CILD recently hosted a workshop on how to use strategic litigation to bring forward social change, with an eye towards pressing issues in Italy, including discrimination of Roma and migrants.
The "Strategic Litigation Essentials Workshop," held November 28-29, was organized by the Italian Coalition for Civil Rights and Freedoms (CILD), with the support of Open Society's Justice Initiative.
Lawyers and officers from various Italian NGOs (including Progetto Diritti, A Buon Diritto, Diritto di Sapere, Cittadinanzattiva, Antigone, Rete Lenford, Asgi, Arci, Avvocati per Niente, L’altro Diritto) dealing with different human rights topics, such as LGBT rights, migrants’ rights, Roma rights and criminal justice issues, received precious insight from Justice Initiative experts on how to use strategic litigation to bring forward social change.

Strategic litigation for social change

The first day the workshop began with a quick overview of the meaning of strategic litigation and about how this tool can be used in the Italian context. Participants then discussed the impacts that strategic litigation can have at a policy level, at a legal level and at a social level. OSF Justice Initiative experts also gave tips in order to plan a strategic litigation so that it is as effective as possible.

On the second day, the workshop focused on how a case is drafted, especially with regard to the European Court of Human Rights: the style of writing, what to include and the mistakes to avoid.

Following this introduction, the focus shifted towards the inclusion of the community in the strategic litigation plan. The strengths and weaknesses of community involvement in strategic litigation were openly discussed. Experts underlined how important it is to design a communication plan in order to support the strategic litigation.

In order to put in practice the theories of strategic litigation, the participants then broke into four groups and dealt with four concrete human rights-related cases: stepchild adoption; the introduction of the crime of torture in Italy; the discrimination of Roma people with regard to the collection of their personal data; and the discrimination of migrants from the perspective of the Italian state's failure to provide access to free legal aid.

A stronger civil society

The comments of participants of the workshop were very positive, saying it helped them to strengthen their knowledge of strategic litigation and to develop different perspectives to look at their cases, not just from a legal angle but also from the point of view of communication and the advocacy.

A side effect of the workshop was to strengthen the partnership and the cooperation among the different civil society organizations, even though they work on diverse topics. All of this to strengthen the Italian civil society and its capacity to bring forward social change!