Over the course of several years, JLAC has relied on its network of volunteers (comprised of activists, members of local councils, former program beneficiaries, etc.) in the implementation of its legal awareness efforts. As these volunteers act as linchpins between JLAC and the local persons and communities in need of legal counsel, provided by JLAC through; beneficiary-visits to its offices, at its periodic public meetings (throughout the West Bank), through its advisory publications, and even over the phone. Moreover, JLAC conducts training programs for groups of volunteers as to equip them with the necessary human rights knowledge in dealing with citizens’ related questions or concerns in the event of formal/informal violations of human rights. The network of volunteers also serves to aid JLAC’s legal representation efforts by collecting needed case documentation from beneficiaries and providing them with needed forms. This added value has been noticed in a marked acceleration/accuracy in the process of providing legal counsel and adopting and litigating cases.
In an effort to reinstate volunteerism as a rubric of human rights in the oPt and as a result of JLAC’s increased reliance on volunteers (due to recent expansions in it programming), the Center sought out and secured specialized funding from the Ford Foundation for the development of its volunteer base. Through this funding, JLAC formed the "Mobilizing Grassroots for the Defence of Human Rights" program and created the Human Rights Defenders Movement which serves to provide 300 volunteers with concentrated skills building (via human rights, monitoring, documentation, and reporting skills training), towards their admission into the sector as capable players.
The Defenders Movement
JLAC’s Defenders Movement, initiated in 2009, has come to comprise 300+ youth from across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Through various specialized projects, the youth have been trained in various topics on human rights and have emerged as active members of their local communities passing on their new-found knowledge. In continuation of these prior efforts, JLAC provided 2 specialized trainings in 2012 to a group from among its volunteers. The focus of the trainings was settler violence as it is an emerging key issue growing in frequency and in severity. During the sessions, the volunteers received in-depth training in documenting settler violence attacks and became familiar with complaint procedures. The trained volunteers have since become a vital resource for JLAC in documenting settler violence offences, as well as in coordinating/implementing local advocacy efforts, collecting needed data from the field, and maintaining certain social media forums (i.e. Facebook accounts, websites, etc.).families.
Volunteers in East Jerusalem
Through a Quakers’ funded project (Public Achievement Project in the amount of 3,500 USD), JLAC was able to provided
intensified training to 90+ active volunteers from within Jerusalem. The training covered a range of subject matters;
from IHL and use of social media, to specific legal awareness on house demolition and other due rights. The volunteers
were subdivided among 3 groups with different thematic focuses; relayed to the volunteers through 15+ training sessions
over the 6 month course of the project. In each group the importance of outreaching local communities (in identifying
needs and in delivering community projects) was adamantly emphasized. In fact, sub-group members were allocated
500 USD each to develop and implement community projects. One particular project which drew JLAC’s attention
was the development of a short documentary aimed at shedding light upon the human rights situation in Silwan.