Protimos worked with its partners to launch the first JAG in the House of Lords, UK, on 16 October 2009.
An initial part of the implementation of this commitment will be to set up a secretariat, from which the group can be coordinated. Once the first group is fully functioning in Sub-Saharan Africa, Protimos will replicate a then-proven model in other regions, adapting as necessary to ensure sensitivity to, among other things, culture, language, and jurisdiction.
The first group will meet at least three times a year to review Protimos' legal processes, and then consider establishing other regional JAGs in additional geographies in which Protimos plans to work - in particular other regions of Africa, and East Asia and South America. The JAG will be available to have smaller support meetings with members of the legal profession in the countries in which it is working, as required.
Protimos lawyers use the law as a development tool, providing access to the legal system for indigenous and marginalized communities, ultimately in order to work towards lifting people out of poverty, through improving their capacity to resist the exploitation of their natural resources, and ensuring a fair price for those resources. This commitment seeks to ensure informed access to the law, and to judicial procedure. It will address the lack of capacity within local courts to handle issues of emerging complexity, such as the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in the UNDP Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor. The commitment also tackles the lack of transparency in the judicial process, and potential lack of experience on the part of the judiciary in hearing the claims and concerns of the indigenous and marginalized.
Protimos' existing program (public interest law, intellectual property rights, governance and accountability) concern complex areas of law which have direct application for vulnerable communities in the developing world. The JAG, which will be by invitation only, will be drawn from amongst leading Commonwealth judges and former judges (primarily from Sub-Saharan Africa), who have distinguished themselves with their expertise in the areas of law where Protimos development lawyers are working.
Protimos is currently seeking a joint partnership funding initiative for this project. In addition, Protimos would value media assistance and welcomes a conversation with those operating in Africa, in the legal/economic development sphere.