Governments and practitioners have a suite of legal tools at their disposal with which to hold state actors, state proxies, non-state actors, and affiliated entities to account for human rights violations, atrocity crimes, financial abuses, and acts of terrorism, among other offenses. However, despite their potential potency, these tools are often under-utilized.

The Atlantic Council’s Strategic Litigation Project will seek to inject fresh thinking into how governments and practitioners can apply legal tools to advance human rights and democracy around the world.

Why strategic litigation?

TO DIRECTLY TARGET THOSE IN POWER
TO DIRECTLY TARGET ABUSERS

Legal measures target those in power who abuse their authority.

Litigation strengthens the international rules-based order and is a targeted, surgical measure aimed at holding violators accountable.

STRENGTHEN CIVIL SOCIETY

Litigation gives voice to victims and empowers civil society.

When civil society is emboldened they push back on their own leaders to demand human rights abiding, transparent, democratic governance.

COUNTERING NARRATIVES

Trials revealing grave human rights violations of dictatorships against their own people can counter nationalistic narratives.

Civil society leaders are aware of abuses, but the broader public living in dictatorships and authoritarian states are inundated with nationalistic propaganda that blames external factors for abuses.

BEHAVIOR CHANGE

Prosecutions and significant judgments for damages coupled with enforcement can incentivize a change in behavior.

If targets for prosecution and enforcement of judgments for damages are more rigorously pursued, it will raise the costs for states to perpetrate human rights violations and engage in malign acts.

Learn more about the Strategic Litigation Project

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Strategic Litigation Project

The Atlantic Council’s strategic litigation project will seek to inject fresh thinking into how governments and practitioners can apply legal tools to advance human rights and democracy around the world.