In the Mekong region, the changes brought about by rapid economic development and investment pose many challenges for local communities. Building and strengthening access to justice is an essential part of promoting development in Mekong countries that is equitable, ecologically sustainable and inclusive of local needs and interests. The concept of public interest law in the Mekong is growing, as in other regions of the world, yet there is a need to engage the next generation of lawyers in public interest practice and equip them with the skills and experience necessary to strengthen the voices of local people within legal processes. 

Mekong lawyers have limited opportunities to study or undertake public interest legal practice, so it is important to create opportunities to share the experiences of practitioners in the region who have successfully managed to do this kind of work in an effective way. Recognizing an increasing need for understanding public interest law practice, supporting access to justice and regional collaboration, EarthRights International (ERI) launched the Mekong Legal Advocacy Institute (MLAI) in 2009. ERI established MLAI to provide a forum for junior Mekong lawyers to share experiences, learn and develop new legal and advocacy strategies, and take effective coordinated action on environmental and social issues focused on strengthening decision-making around development projects. Central to this mission are periodic experience sharing sessions that bring in expert lawyers from around the world to share skills and offer guidance in key areas of emerging law, such as sustainable development, transboundary legal mechanisms and corporate accountability. 

Joining MLAI

MLAI is currently seeking participants from all six Mekong countries - Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Vietnam. If you are a junior public interest attorney working on the environment or human rights, please fill out the attached application form and email it together with a one-page curriculum vitae to [email protected] and [email protected]. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, 1 October 2014.

The 2014 MLAI session will be held from the 30th November to the 14th of December in Chiang Mai, Thailand. ERI will cover travel, food and accommodation costs of all selected participants. Participants are expected to be present on all of the training dates. Please see the MLAI experience sharing program outline for more detail.

For inquiries, please feel free to send us an email.