'Rage, Reckoning and Remedy'

Global Meeting on Law and Society

Academics at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), in association with the Legal Mobilization Project, will be participating in the Global Meeting on Law and Society, taking place in Lisbon, Portugal between 13-16 July 2022. The theme of the 2022 meeting is ‘Rage, Reckoning and Remedy’ and will bring together 4,500 attendees representing 95 countries from the Global North and South.

Forming part of the Collaborative Research Network on African Law and Society, Dr Jeff Handmaker, together with ISS PhD researchers, Thandiwe Matthews (panel organizer) and Charmika Samaradiwakera-Wijesundara, and with Dr Friederycke Haijer (Utrecht University), will be presenting their research in the panel, ‘Power, Politics and Rights – interrogating the potential of legal mobilization’. 

About the panel

In liberal democracies throughout the world, strategic legal mobilization remains an effective tool to hold various powerful actors accountable for human rights violations. However, the use of formal legal mechanisms is also relied on by individuals, private corporations and governments to achieve undemocratic aims.

'...the rule of law ... can both amplify and promote social inclusion ...'

Consequently, use of the rule of law as an institution of power can both amplify and promote social inclusion as well as sustain the exclusion, marginalization and colonial domination of historically disenfranchised groups.

How the law is used in liberal democracies, and the actors mobilizing its function, ought to be interrogated and contrasted, as companies and governments alike engage in state capture of democratic institutions, or victimize and bankrupt social justice advocates and organizations by relying on the rule of law in a legally and politically illegitimate manner.

Opportunities and limitations of the law as a form of rights-based advocacy and resistance

Panel members study the opportunities and limitations of using law as a legitimate form of rights-based civic advocacy and political resistance to counter forms of hegemonic power (such as lawfare).

Drawing on different case studies of legal mobilization and methodologies, each panelist adopts a critical approach to explore the relationship between law and other fields and disciplines to explain why strategic thinking is essential to realizing social justice and political equality. Panel members aim to conceptualize what legitimate forms of legal mobilization there are, in contrast to illegitimate forms of ‘lawfare’ and analyze how legal mobilization can address structural transformation toward the advancement of social justice.

In doing so, we engage with a diverse range of topics, actors, institutions and levels. Panel members will address economic and social rights protection, international criminal justice, environmental justice, corporate accountability and foreign corruption.


  • Law as a shield: Analyzing the potential of legal mobilization to counter state and corporate lawfare - Dr Jeff Handmaker (Associate Professor in Legal Sociology at ISS)
  • Silence is golden: The absence of victims' participation in anti-corruption enforcement and who benefits - Dr Friederycke Haijer (Research Fellow, Platform Markets & Corporations in Open Societies and Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law, Utrecht University
  • Who gets left behind? Mobilizing the right to social assistance and the judicialization of politics in South Africa - Thandiwe Matthews (Course Tutor and PhD researcher at ISS)
  • Reframing subjectivity: Systemic inequality and the company at the intersection of race, gender and poverty - Charmika Samaradiwakera-Wijesundara (PhD researcher at ISS)

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