Vivek Maru ’01 to Deliver Gruber Lecture on Oct. 25

Vivek Maru

Vivek Maru ’01, a human rights advocate and founder and CEO of the grassroots legal empowerment group Namati, will deliver the 2021 Gruber Distinguished Lecture in Global Justice.

Maru’s lecture, “Stop a Land Grab, Change the System: A Pathway to Climate and Environmental Justice,” will take place on October 25, 2021, from 4:30–6:00 p.m. via Zoom. Maru will also join a panel discussion via Zoom the following day from 12:15–1:30 p.m. Both events are open to the Yale community and require online registration. 

In 2011, Maru established Namati, an organization that trains and supports local public-interest advocates, popularly known as “community paralegals” or “barefoot lawyers,” in 10 countries. Namati’s efforts have yielded, among other outcomes, legal safeguards for women under Sierra Leonean law, enhanced anti-corruption measures in Mozambique’s health industry, and regulation of sand-mining in Indian environmental law. Namati also houses the Legal Empowerment Network, which comprises more than 2,000 legal advocacy groups from more than 160 countries. The co-author of Community Paralegals and the Pursuit of Justice, Maru previously co-founded Sierra Leone-based Timap for Justice and worked as Senior Counsel in the World Bank’s Justice Reform Group. He received the North American South Asian Bar Association’s 2008 Pioneer Award, served as a 2014 Ashoka Fellow, and won, alongside Namati and the Legal Empowerment Network, the 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2017, Maru delivered a TED Talk, “How to Put the Power of Law in People’s Hands,” which has been viewed more than 1 million times.

The panel will bring Maru into conversation with fellow practitioners of legal empowerment. Eileen Wakesho, an expert on women’s land rights, serves as Namati’s Community Land Protection Advisor in Kenya and previously worked with Oxfam, the Kenya Land Alliance, the Development Policy Management Forum, and the Kenya Institute for Public Policy. Gabriela Burdiles is Project Director at Fiscalia del Medio Ambiente (FISA), a Chilean organization that helps communities fight for environmental justice. Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights James J. Silk ’89 will moderate the discussion. He is the Director of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and the Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for International Human Rights.

The Gruber Distinguished Lecture in Global Justice and the Gruber Distinguished Lecture in Women’s Rights feature speakers whose exceptional achievements have served the causes of global justice and women’s rights. The lectures are one of four core components of the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights, a Yale University program administered by Yale Law School.