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Monday, 2 July 2018

A Community-Based Practitioner’s Guide: Documenting Citizenship and Other Forms of Legal Identity

Open Society Justice Initiative and Namati, in cooperation with UNHCR, developed a Community-Based Practitioner’s Guide: Documenting Citizenship and Other Forms of Legal Identity. This guide was developed in response to the growing recognition of the opportunity for community-based justice actors to assist individuals and communities suffering from a lack of documentation of citizenship or other forms of proof of legal identity.

Today, 1.1 billion people around the world lack legal identity documentation. Without it, they cannot vote, access healthcare, or go to school—and are at risk of becoming stateless. Entire communities—especially the poor and members of minority groups—may lack documentation, leaving them legally and politically invisible. The lack of effective citizenship prevents millions from realizing their rights and reaching their full potential.

Unfortunately, gaining access to legal identity documents can be difficult or even impossible. In theory, governments should provide documents to their citizens, but in reality, the process is complicated by burdensome bureaucracies, distant offices, and even discriminatory officials.

Based on the experiences of dozens of existing projects, and drawing on lessons from across the globe, this guide provides step-by-step instructions on establishing a paralegal or other community-based program to help people obtain legal identity documents. An essential tool for practitioners, it uses case studies, infographics, and copies of actual forms to guide the reader through the process of documenting citizenship and other forms of legal identity.

Praxis took active part in drafting and finalizing the Guide. Praxis’ Executive Director Ivanka Kostic first participated in a two-day workshop on the Toolkit for paralegal projects on civil status documentation, nationality and citizenship rights, that was held in London in August 2017, providing comments, recommendations and sharing Praxis experiences on the issue, and also provided written inputs to the  final version of the Guide. 

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