In all its actions, LWBC strives to embody collegiality and subsidiarity; two principles that underpin healthy, cooperative relationships that are based on an understanding of the needs of others and on mutual respect.
Below are LWBC’s various areas of intervention, within which we aim to ensure the ethics and integrity of our processes and the tools that we make available to its partners.
The objective is to facilitate the achievement of concrete results for victims of human rights abuses, and also for the lawyers and civil society organizations that support them.
At LWBC, legal aid and legal assistance involves offering the services of qualified professionals to guide, inform, advise and represent victims before the courts. These services, known as “frontline” services, are free and directed at people in vulnerable situations who are victims of human rights abuses.
International cooperation involves exchanging knowledge, expertise and tools across borders. Here at LWBC, this is synonymous with solidarity, but also with synergy and subsidiarity. Our projects seek to support victims, lawyers and local civil society organizations. The victories secured belong first and foremost to them, which ensures that law and justice are in the hands of the local agents of change.
Volunteering is part of our DNA at LWBC. LWBC aims to put the professional experience of Canadian lawyers to use in support of those elsewhere. Our volunteers are deployed on the ground, with local partners or at LWBC's own offices.
By putting their skills, knowledge and legal expertise at others' disposal, these volunteer lawyers ensure that our projects are implemented effectively. They do concrete work to make the law an instrument that genuinely protects and promotes human rights. Since 2002, we have organised over 315 volunteer mandates in more than 21 countries, in which 280 volunteers have taken part.
Transitional justice refers to the combination of judicial and/or extra-judicial measures put in place to aid a country or region emerging from a crisis or conflict. These measures seek to promote dialogue between the different parties, to bring an end to serious human rights abuses or to repair victims of such abuses that have taken place.
The transitional justice mechanisms that LWBC supports in this way play an essential part in the transition to a lasting peace. The four principal TJ pillars on which we build our interventions are: the right to the truth, the right to justice (through the prosecution of the most responsible), the right of victims to reparation, and the adoption of measures to guarantee non-repetition.
Through its Human Rights Laboratory, LWBC contributes actively to human rights training programs for hundreds of lawyers, in Canada and in the field. Within the scope of our projects, we design and implement, in collaboration with our local and Canadian partners, training programs (recognized as part of the continuing education program of the Bar of Quebec) adapted to specific needs of the target audience.
By creating space for reflection and awareness-raising on human rights, we actively contribute to training the next generation. We accomplish this through our internship program and our partnerships with university clinics. We also encourage and stimulate citizen participation through awareness-raising campaigns, the publication of reports and public statements, and the organization of conferences addressing various topics and current events.
Strategic human rights litigation is one of the main tools employed by LWBC. Strategic litigation of landmark cases consists of selecting, often among multiple cases of human rights violations, a case that is likely to have a broad societal impact.
This could be a case that will most likely result in a conviction by a national court, for procedural or substantive reasons. The selected case may also be the most symbolic due to the offences being prosecuted, such as rape, sexual slavery, or crimes against humanity, or because of the social and political status of the perpetrator of the crime, as is the case when prosecuting a former dictator or senior government officials. The verdict will create a precedent on which subsequent cases will rely to obtain justice.
This type of litigation not only allows for the creation of long-term legal changes within the country, but also represents a vehicle to fundamentally change citizens' political and social perceptions of justice.