chapter  3
32 Pages

A challenge to power

Legal empowerment as an enabling central capability 1
WithAnna Lise Purkey

Chapter 3 examines how the legal empowerment of refugees can be understood both as a central human rights-based capability in itself and as a key enabling mechanism for the realization of other important human rights-based capabilities. Following a discussion of the concept of legal empowerment in terms of its relation to power and to the rule of law orthodoxy, this chapter proposes a definition of legal empowerment that is appropriate to protracted refugee situations and that encompasses the concepts of access to justice, accountability, and the rule of law. Using that definition, I demonstrate the importance of legal empowerment of refugees, not only as a central capability, but as a means of ensuring the integrity of the state-refugee fiduciary relationship by protecting refugees against instrumentalization and domination by the state.