Dan Banik: The Legal Empowerment of the Poor

In Handbook on the Rule of Law, Edward Elgar publishing, 2018.


The chapter is written by Dan Banik.

The book is edited by Christopher May, Professor of Political Economy, Lancaster University and the late Adam Winchester, formerly Lancaster University, UK

Abstract (chapter)

The legal empowerment of the poor (LEP) approach attracted worldwide attention when it claimed that over four billion people live without legal protection and that poverty persists partly because the poor do not enjoy legal rights or the power to exercise those rights. The chapter begins with a brief overview of the concept of legal empowerment and how it is distinct from human rights-based approaches. The ensuing discussion thereafter examines the reaction of the international community to a series of reports published by the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor in 2005 and the extent to which the approach has since been mainstreamed in global development efforts. The final sections of the chapter critically examine the legal and political dimensions of empowerment with specific reference to the much-publicized right to food case in India. I argue that an over-reliance on LEP is inadequate in tackling difficult questions of inequality, discrimination, and poverty. Without an explicit focus on power and politics, approaches such as the LEP will not be able to achieve sustained poverty reduction.


Poverty, empowerment, legal reform, rule of law, India

Abstract (book)

In the last half century, the rule of law has increasingly been appealed to as a common global value. The Handbook on the Rule of Law analyses the appeal of this idea, its context and background through a range of questions about the character, history and global reach of the rule of law, offering readers a definitive understanding of this central global norm.

Original contributions from leading academics explore the rule of law conceptually and historically through its associated institutions, as well as examining detailed cases evaluating how the everyday application of the rule of law impacts society as a whole. Exploring a wide range of research on the social, political and economic dimensions of the rule of law, this Handbook clearly illustrates the link between the rule of law and the global political system.

This informative Handbook will be key reading for postgraduate students of international relations, global politics and law, as well as for legal scholars wanting to build upon their knowledge with a wider account of the rule of law. Researchers in areas impacted by the rule of law will also find this volume to be stimulating reading.
Published Oct. 15, 2018 1:08 PM - Last modified Oct. 15, 2018 2:02 PM