IHRLG's vision for developing regional strategic human rights lawyering fora evolved through our experiences in training Cambodian activists to become free legal assistance providers to the poor. We launched our Cambodian Defenders Project
in 1994, which recently transitioned to an independent NGO.
Over the years, the impact of CDP's work has grown beyond the individual clients served to have a significant impact on the development of a human rights culture in Cambodia. CDP's success triggered our decision to reach out to legal assistance projects in other regions of the world to share lessons learned. In 1999 and 2000, IHRLG held four regional fora that brought together more than 180 representatives from 125 legal and human rights organizations and more than 50 countries:
- Southeast Asia and China, held in Thailand, in partnership with the Asian Human Rights Commission
- Central and Eastern Europe, held in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in partnership with the Law Center at the Faculty of Law (Sarajevo)
- Mexico and Central America, held in Guatemala, in partnership with the Myrna Mack Foundation
- Sub-Saharan Africa, held in South Africa, in partnership with the Legal Resources Center
Promoting Justice, IHRLG's guide to strategic human rights lawyering, is the culmination of the regional fora, selected country studies of legal services, in-depth surveys of lawyers around the world and independent research.