Vulnerability, disempowerment and the resultant lack of access to justice has been the focal point for a vast portion of the past and on-going research conducted by The Network. Stemming from and embedded in assessments of IFI funded reforms introduced in the country a decade and half ago, engaging with the on-going work of various international human rights organizations and philanthropic foundations targeting vulnerable groups and categories and promoting legal empowerment of the poor (LEP), and cognizant of the growing scholarly literature on the interplay between formal and informal legal systems, The Network had made valuable contributions on the literature on these themes.
One important strain of such research has been the demystification of the hegemonic potential of formal law and the use of law as any instrument of coercion in the hands of the resourceful. However, that has not meant any absence of cognizance of the hierarchies and possible persecutions perpetuated under more traditional and informal modes of dispensation of justice. As a consequence, The Network has not only worked on various aspects of the formal legal process in the pursuit of greater efficiency and fairness but has explored possibilities and potential presented by traditional as well as modern non-formal dispute resolution systems, especially given the fast growing burden on the formal sector. Adopting multi-disciplinary as well as inter-disciplinary approaches The Network’s research explores the phenomenon of justice and access thereto not just as a legal phenomenon but indeed as a contributor to as well as the outcome of political, social and economic empowerment. This work assumes additional resonance and complexity since the field of work puts forward the conflicts, constraints and often contesting aspirations of the diverse claimants in a developing economy.