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Chapter 14: Advocacy & Legal Advice Centres (ALACs) Experiences in fostering citizen participation and government responsiveness Angela Keller-Herzog. Kumarian Press. Unpacking statements about ‘lack of political will’ a little…. Is it like a light-switch?

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Chapter 14:

Advocacy & Legal Advice Centres (ALACs)

Experiences in fostering citizen participation and government responsiveness

Angela Keller-Herzog

Kumarian Press

unpacking statements about lack of political will a little
Unpacking statements about ‘lack of political will’ a little….
  • Is it like a light-switch?
  • Is it the primary determinant factor shaping governance
    • Abstract, intangible, untouchable?
    • Idiosyncratic geopolitical pressures and circumstance-bound power struggles

Statements which attribute our failures to “lack of political will” can have a strong sub-text of disempowerment and disconnectedness

    • Need to examine our own connectedness
    • Need to see how we are constructing ourselves to be empowered agencies… to converse with the agencies of political will
A global movement against corruption established in 1993
  • A world-wide network of 99 national chapters / contacts / partners
  • International Secretariat in Berlin
  • International Board of Directors
  • Global Network of Senior advisors and other volunteers
alac 101
ALAC 101
  • ALACs aim to:
  • Empower citizens to make and pursue corruption-related complaints
  • Translate these complaints into structural changes

ALAC activities are to:

  • Provide legal advice and assistance to victims or witnesses of corruption
  • Help citizens pursue corruption-related complaints
  • Undertake advocacy for broader reform
alac 1011
ALAC 101
  • The rationales for the ALAC are that:
  • The fight against corruption will be more effective if citizens are involved (anti-corruption work not limited to ‘experts’)
  • Engaging directly with citizens provides a deeper understanding as to how corruption works in practice (information not always available from surveys)
  • Reflecting the real experiences of people enhances the legitimacy of advocacy campaigns (grounded in the concerns of the population; not just TI ‘opinion’)
alac 1012
ALAC 101
  • The types of cases the ALACs deal with vary enormously:
  • From small- (e.g., small business licensing) to large-scale (hundreds of millions of dollars/ procurement)
  • Across sectors (e.g., businesses, health, education)
  • The clients include:
  • Vulnerable people (who frequently have no other options available)
  • Empowered individuals (seeking to assert their rights and who are frequently able to effect change)

The democratisation of the anti-corruption fight:At a basic and obvious level, the ALACs are the empowerment of individuals to fight against corruption. In this, ALACs provide a practical answer to the problem of how to broaden the anti-corruption coalition and involve citizens.

Institutional reform:By using information gained from cases (either individual cases or common themes running through a variety of cases), the ALACs are able to advocate for reform. Many larger-scale changes have been effected by ALACs, including, for example, introduction of whistle-blower laws, new administrative procedures for inspections and licenses.

an approach not a blueprint
An Approach not a Blueprint

In practice ALACs vary enormously from country to country.

Environment: If legal system functions, ALACs can focus more on pursuit of legal remedies. More broadly, the environment for ALACs is set by how citizenship can be practiced in a country. Culture and history are important in shaping the functioning of institutions.

NC leadership and management choices: Different perception of risks, different perception of opportunities, different roads to Rome.

inventing ourselves through our practice
Inventing Ourselves Through our Practice

Key Success Factors of TI ALACs:

  • Engagement and connection is necessary but not sufficient
  • Persistence and consistency
  • the (multi-dimensional) powers of information


  • One-off messages do not succeed.
  • Consistent and legal framing is appreciated by bureaucrats/technocrats.
  • Managerial competence and capacity required to achieve quality benchmarks of practice

ALACs: Helping Citizens resist corruption

    • ALACs: Translating citizen complaints into structural change
  • ALACs: New Generation of TI Program

Thank You