The sustained and determined struggle of Nigeria's pro-democracy movement was vindicated with the inauguration of the democratically elected Obasanjo Administration in May 1999, after 30 years of near continual authoritarian repression under military rule. But frustration soon followed as the new National Assembly was marred by corruption scandals, human rights violations by security forces and violence against women persisted, and communal and ethnic tensions were heightened by the absence of a democratically drafted constitution.
Despite the numerous problems facing the country today, Nigerian civil society groups are leading an ambitious legislative reform movement to optimize existing opportunities to engage the current administration and ensure that Nigerian citizens are involved in and benefit from the country's democratic transition. The International Human Rights Law Group has supported and partnered with Nigerian civil society groups since the repressive period of the Abacha regime. Immediately following the unexpected transition to civilian rule in 1999, IHRLG began developing a strategy with our Nigerian partners to address their identification of promoting legislative transparency as priority one within the pro-democracy movement.
We opened our Abuja office in March 2000 to help build the capacity of civil society groups to affect Nigeria's democratic transition and build toward a legal framework for human rights protection, through sustained legislative advocacy, media outreach and public education. IHRLG also assists our local partners in building legislative advocacy coalitions among civil society organizations (CSOs) and community-based groups, achieving gender balance within CSOs and fully integrating women's human rights concerns into legislative advocacy initiatives. As a member or partner of these coalitions, we help mobilize grassroots support of CSO legislative reform initiatives addressing locally determined national priorities, including
- Reviewing Nigeria's constitution, criminal justice system and electoral procedures; and
- Advocating the adoption of bills on human rights, freedom of information, criminalization of domestic violence, and environmental and ecological issues where economic and cultural rights are at stake.
Our legislative advocacy and public education efforts include the production of legislative advocacy tools to address the general lack of access to reliable information concerning Nigeria's legislature. These tools include the publication of the bi-monthly magazine Legislative Mandate, in partnership with Community Action for Popular Participation, and a Citizens' National Assembly Handbook, in partnership with HURILAWS.
Click on the links below to learn more about IHRLG's activities in Nigeria
Building the capacity of CSOs to strategically combine legislative advocacy techniques
Helping create legislative advocacy coalitions and mobilize grassroots support for reform
Promoting the protection of women's human rights including economic rights