Past Projects


1.      Center for Civil Society, Reforming Bamboo Policy in India
The Planning Commission of India estimates that bamboo could provide employment to nearly 50 million people, particularly the poorest forest-dependent communities.  However, bamboo, which is scientifically recognized as a grass, is classified as a tree in India, and is therefore regulated by legislation banning its harvesting.  Center for Civil Society (CCS) has been advocating for reforming the bamboo policy for years and is seeking to investigate the legal status of court pronouncements, allied laws, and ministerial declaration on bamboo in order to take the campaign into Parliament and secure changes including amendments to the current law.  LIDS students would research the current legal status of bamboo in the country, conduct comparative research, and suggest key amendments to current legislation.  Findings will be summarized in a policy memorandum.

2.      Equal Education Law Centre, Increasing Accountability, Transparency and Quality in South Africa’s Education System
Education districts in South Africa are the main local vehicle for monitoring the education of students and supporting local schools.  Yet, these local offices suffer from substantial shortcomings and challenges, many of which can be traced back to the lack of a clear policy framework setting out the roles and responsibilities of district offices and their officials.  In exploring ways in which litigation can be used to increase accountability, transparency and ultimately quality in South Africa’s education system, Equal Education Law Centre seeks to understand international best practices of how various government bodies have used local offices to monitor and provide support to individual schools, as well as communicate and respond to concerns expressed by the surround school communities.  Students will conduct research on best practices at the district-level to increase accountability and transparency of education delivery and will develop a draft policy proposal to regulate school districts.

3.      Legal Resources Centre, Empowering Communities to Assert Their Own Development Path
LRC is supporting the Working Group on Extractive Industries established by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  The Working Group is tasked with, among other things, examining the impact of extractive industries in Africa within the context of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  In recent years, there has been an overwhelming tide of large-scale investment by extractive industries, which has resulted at times in the displacement of communities, among other negative aspects, in the name of development of the nation as a whole.  This project seeks to answer the question: How can rural and customary communities in Africa (constituting roughly 70% of land space on the continent) resist large scale investment and land grabbing in the name of the development to assert their own path of development?  Research will involve a textual analysis of the African charter, assessment of relevant jurisprudence of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and analysis of legal frameworks of selected countries.  Findings will be incorporated into the report of the Working Group to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

4.      Open Society Justice Initiative, Freedom of Information Comparative Research
OSJI is working on developing Global Principles of Freedom of Information (FOI) related to national security.  As part of this effort it would like to understand the current state of FOI law on an international level.  To help in this endeavor, students will collect, categorize and record FOI law from as many countries as possible, and draft a report on the foundational state of right to information law in various countries.  The final product will be a memo analyzing the state of FOI law internationally as compared to the principles being proposed by OSJI.

5.      Public International Law and Policy Group, Economic Reconstruction and Development
Post-conflict states have a variety of tools at their disposal to restructure their economy and foster development, which they implement by setting up a legal framework including both constitutional and legislative provisions. Relevant considerations in developing such constitutional and legislative provisions include the adoption of an economic model as well as economic development goals; establishing economic rights and freedoms; and establishing a state’s right to be an economic actor by retaining authority to regulate and control the economy.  Students will write a memorandum analyzing these core elements of state constitutional and legislative practice with regard to economic reconstruction and development.  Research will be conducted on various states and their practices to inform the process for PILPG’s client- a transitional government in North Africa.

6.      TransFarm Africa, Mapping the Legal and Regulatory Environment for Products of Potential in East Africa
African agriculture holds great untapped development potential, and entrepreneurs from Africa and around the world are increasingly flocking to opportunities in the African agricultural sector.  Yet, the legal and regulatory environment in Africa is notoriously complex and can sometime present insurmountable barriers for these entrepreneurs.  TransFarm Africa, in collaboration with Dr. Cesar Hidalgo of the Media Lab at MIT and Harvard Kennedy School and creator of the “Product Space” methodology, is helping to develop the “Policy Space,” an interactive data visualization tool meant to make the policy environment facing different industries in different countries more transparent and easier to navigate for entrepreneurs on the ground.  As a first step in designing the Policy Space tool, LIDS will support TFA to identify and map nascent opportunities for a handful of products in the Tanzania and Rwanda agricultural sectors and the relevant laws, regulations and policies impacting them.  More specifically, students will be conducting research and fact finding on trade laws, investment regulations and product-specific certification, registration and safety standards for a number of specific agricultural products.

7.      Vale Columbia Center, Performance Requirements Facilitating Technology Transfer
Many countries – developed and developing – have used performance requirements as a tool to maximize the potential benefits of foreign direct investment (FDI).  Governments can impose performance requirements on multinational enterprises (MNEs) as a mandatory condition for establishing an investment, or can impose the requirements as a condition for the MNEs’ receipt of an advantage such as a tax break; and they do so in order to further a variety of development objectives. Although performance requirements have shown to be important tools for countries to advance their sustainable development goals, not all such measures are equally successful.  And some have even been shown to have the perverse effect of frustrating development goals.  This project seeks to address that issue by using research and interviews to produce a paper on the types of performance requirements, specifically to facilitate technology transfers, which countries may want to use (or avoid using) in order to fully reap the benefits from investments by MNEs.

8.      Vaxess Silk Innovation, Comparative Study of Regulatory Frameworks for Vaccines
The LIDS team will be doing research for Vaxess Technologies. Vaxess is working to commercialize a patented Tufts University platform technology to stabilize vaccines in silk-based materials so that no longer need refrigeration. Students from Harvard’s Business School, Law School, Kennedy School, and School of Engineering and Applied Science have incorporated Vaxess to take this innovation to market with the aim of making silk-stabilized vaccines widely accessible, especially in developing countries. The LIDS team will add to their efforts by providing Vaxess and Tufts with an overview of the different regulatory frameworks under which they need to seek approval before the product can enter the market.

9.  White Paper on Corruption, Developing a Private Right of Action
The White Paper Model is a new addition to LIDS this year. It will involve researching broader development-related issues and using this research to write white papers that we will publish on our website. This year, LIDS would like to develop a white paper on corruption.  The specific topic will involve developing a private right of action to allow individuals who have been harmed by corruption to bring suits in a court of law.

1. World Bank International Corruption Hunter’s Alliance: Compilation of Case Studies of Whistleblowing Laws and Corruption Complaint Mechanisms

2. TransFarm Africa: African Regional Trade Agreements and the Agricultural Sector

1.     Pensamiento y Acción Social – PAS, and Arbeitsgruppe Scheiwz-Kolumbien – ASK!
This project will research voluntary business principles, codes of conduct and International Law applicable to extractive industry in general, and mining companies in particular. The objective of this project will be to help ASK and Pas to engage in legal actions with mining companies in Colombia to ensure that such companies adopt practices that are respectful of human rights and environmental issues.

2.   Landesa

Landesa (previously Rural Development Institute) has operated in almost 50 countries to work with local governments to advance land tenure rights for the rural poor. It currently has offices in the United States, China, India and Russia with over 100 staff members working around the globe. The LIDS team will conduct a comparative study on the best practices and policies of progressive land titling practices for women in five different countries in South East Asia. The study will focus on the legal and regulatory framework for women’s property right, including marital property rights and land registration rights.

3.     Solar Sister

The LIDS team will assist Solar Sister, a US-based NGO that works on female empowerment, by conducting research and provide analysis of alternative legal structures for Solar Sister, including non-profit, for-profit, and alternative structures such as hybrid, B Corp and L3C options.

4.     TransFarm Africa

The LIDS team will prepare a memo for  a non-profit organization based at the Aspen Institute in DC on how to expand the sugar industry in East Africa. More specifically, the team will conduct research on national and international law, relevant regional agreements (like COMESA), conduct a policy analysis of regulatory regimes governing sugar production in East Africa and trade in sugar among countries in the region, and the current trade regimes in the US and the EU.

5.     Revenue Watch Institute

The LIDS team will classify different types of licensing regimes employed in the oil sector in a select group of countries. By doing so, they assist RWI to explore whether particular types of licensing regimes correlate with higher returns or more favorable fiscal regimes over time.

6.     Sanergy

The LIDS team would prepare a comprehensive analysis of land rights problems and solutions in urban slums in five developing countries.  This work will help Sanergy to better advise micro-entrepreneurs in Nairobi, Kenya on how to secure land and sustained rights in the slums of Kenya.

7.     Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG)
The LIDS team will help PILPG to assist clients in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in considering options, opportunities, and potential frameworks for constitutional reform by preparing a memo on European Union standards for state regulation of agriculture.

8.     International Institute for Sustainable Development

The LIDS team will research to find and catalogue investment contracts between mining companies and governments of developing countries.  The goal is to establish a publicly accessible database of such contracts that IISD will manage and maintain in order to improve governmental and public awareness of such contracts and their contents.


1. Public International Law & Policy Group

Kenya Decentralization Best Practices
Following the approval of the new constitution on August 4, 2010, Kenya has been moving toward the decentralization of power from the central level to county governments. PILPG is advising Kenyan government officials, policymakers, and reform institutions on decentralization practices on three levels: political, administrative and fiscal. To help in this process, PILPG requests a memorandum which outlines best practices in decentralization and describes the specific legislation put in place to achieve this best practice.

2. Public International Law & Policy Group
Transitioning from unitary to federal governance structures in Nepal

PILPG advised Nepalese officials regarding a transition towards federal government. LIDS produced a memorandum that chronicles how other states have managed that transition. PILPG requested information regarding initiating, coordinating, and overseeing the shift; processes for devolving power; and sources of conflict or tension associated with the transition.

3. Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
The adequacy dimension of the Right to Food 
LIDS will assist the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Oliver de Schutter, with research for his upcoming bi-annual report on the adequacy dimension of the human right to food and the impact inadequate diets have on non-communicable diseases. The research will be comprised of two sections, part one discussing the role of the private sector in influencing people’s diets, and part two focusing on policies states could adopt to combat the spread of non-communicable, diet-related diseases. The final product will be presented as a well-referenced background note, with a total length of 20,000 – 25,000 words.

4. Sirona Cares

Haiti Biofuel Farming and Rural Electricity ProjectSirona Cares is a 501(c)(3) non-profit seeking to establish a fuel company in Haiti. Sirona has proposed that LIDS develop a brief that describes the types of companies that can be established in Haiti including limited liabilities and limited partnerships. Sirona needs information on the differences between American entities of this type and those in Haiti; specifically differences in taxes, management structure and corporate governance.

5. Development Alternatives, Inc. 
Analysis of Jordan’s International Tax Law Treaties 
Since 2009, DAI has been implementing the Jordan Fiscal Reform II Project, a five-year program of technical assistance funded by USAID. As a component of this project, DAI is providing the Jordanian Ministry of Finance with tax policy advice to prepare amendments to the legal framework–both laws and regulation–to foster more efficient and equitable taxation. Included in this realm is the assortment of tax treaties to which the Government of Jordan is a signatory. In this project, LIDS will assist DAI by reviewing, analyzing, and recommending improvements to Jordan’s existing tax treaties, particularly in view of international best practices for treaty design and drafting.

6. Endeavor Global
Emerging Market Investment Term Sheet Analysis
Endeavor is the global nonprofit that pioneered the concept of High-Impact Entrepreneurship in emerging markets, supporting and mentoring 540 local High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 349 developing country companies to date. In order to improve access to capital for emerging market entrepreneurs, Endeavor would like to partner with LIDS to compare key term sheet provisions and analyze key trends from deals executed by leading emerging market investors. Lack of knowledge on practices related to term sheet structure and components is an important road block preventing firms from investing in local emerging market companies. The analysis will enable Endeavor and its partner organizations, including the Latin American Venture Capital Association and the Kauffman Fellows Program, to identify and address common practices that may be slowing down the development of growth capital investing in emerging market countries.

7. Institute for Liberty & Democracy
Government policies for adjudicating arable land: A comparative analysis in five developing countries
A LIDS project team will analyze and the ways in which 5 developing countries are dealing with the pressure exerted by governments and other public or private actors to obtain large tracts of arable land in their territories. In particular, the team will examine examine how their legal frameworks deal with, for instance, the allocation, registration and titling, and protection of land rights, and the creation of investment incentives for land acquisitions. The legal framework should be assessed in terms of meeting the expected economic and social benefits that these transactions are supposed to bring about, such as poverty reduction, unemployment, environmental protection, and food security.

8. Qatar Charity / Applied Research Institute 
The Right to Water in Palestine 
Qatar Charity is an international NGO that was established in 1992 to build human dignity in the most needy communities around the world. ARIJ is a national research institute based in Jerusalem, formed in 1991, that provides data and research for position papers and policy strategies in Palestine. These two groups have joined together to ask LIDS to draft a research paper on the legal framework related to water distribution in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In this project, the LIDS team will analyze international human rights law and other international treaties in the context of the right to water in Palestine.

9. International Organization for Migration
Protection of Minorities in Iraq 
The IOM Iraq Mission was established in January 2003 in response to overwhelming humanitarian need following the collapse of the former regime. In this project, LIDS will work with the mission’s Integrated Capacity Building Program to produce a report that will analyze the problems faced by minorities in Iraq, with specific attention paid to the legal framework available for the protection of minorities. In specific, the team will review norms, regulatory frameworks, proposed law and regulations, and signed conventions that exist in Iraq related to the protection of minority ethnic and religious groups.



1. Root Capital

Arbitration in Loan Provisions and Applicable Law
Root Capital, a non-profit social investment fund, works with small businesses in developing countries to provide capital, financial education, and networking opportunities. This project will follow up LIDS’ spring 2010 analysis of the benefits of arbitration in loan arrangements with small-scale cooperatives in the developing world. Root Capital has asked LIDS to look into the appropriate applicable law for its arbitration provisions in loans made in Latin American and Africa. This team will also evaluate the different commercial arbitral forums available for resolving such disputes and recommend which forum Root Capital should use.

2.Root Capital
Arbitration Locations and Language

This project will also follow up LIDS’ spring 2009 analysis of the benefits of arbitration in loan arrangements with small-scale cooperatives in the developing world. Root Capital has asked LIDS to determine the effects of language and location on the outcomes of arbitrations involving borrowers and lenders, and make recommendations regarding which language to conduct the arbitrations arising out of disputes from its loans in, as well as where those proceedings should take place. This team will also evaluate the desirability of including an arbitration provision in loan documents in countries that are not parties to the New York Convention or the Organisation for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa.

3. International Organization for Migration
Methodology for Evaluation of Iraq Land Claims Program

IOM is the principal intergovernmental organization in the field of migration. IOM provides services and advice to governments to facilitate orderly and humane migration. IOM has a contract with USAID to facilitate the Iraqi Government’s Property Claims Commission (IPCC), which is a government agency charged with resolving real property claims in the post-conflict situation. LIDS will be working with the IOM’s Iraq mission to assist them in developing a methodology to evaluate the success (or lack thereof) of the Iraq Land Claims Program and the success of a post-conflict land restitution program and administrative process, in general. If time permits, the team may also begin to prepare materials to carry out the actual field evaluation.

4. International Relief & Development
Evaluation of Land Rights in Afghanistan

IRD is a leading international development contractor that works in 40 countries throughout the world, providing $500 million a year in development assistance. IRD plans to begin a project related to land tenure and real estate in Afghanistan. LIDS will assist IRD to lay the groundwork for its project by looking at the current state of land rights in Afghanistan, the Afghan government’s ability to promote land use and development, and provide its opinion on the shortcomings on the Afghan government’s efforts as well as the economic effects of ineffectual land rights.

5. Public International Law and Policy Group
Assistance of Decentralization in Kenya

Following the approval of a new Constitution for Kenya by referendum on August 4, 2010, PILPG will assist in the design and enactment of legislation which will facilitate the transfer of powers from the national government to county governments. The LIDS team will support PILPG in this work by producing a research memorandum focusing on the purpose of restitution programs and theoretical background in post- conflict reconstruction and develop objective criteria by which to evaluate the success of a post-conflict land restitution program and administrative process.

6. Institute for Liberty & Democracy
Political and Economic Participation of Indigenous Peoples

LIDS will prepare a report for the ILD, a leading research institute located in Lima, Peru specializing in institutional reform, focusing on the comparative experience of governments throughout the world in promoting political and economic participation of indigenous peoples. This report will focus on both the legal and policy strategies employed by no less than five countries (including Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, Sweden/Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Mali/Niger and India). The team will also critically evaluate and compare the policies researched.

7. American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative
Incorporation of Climate Change into Environmental Litigation and Advocacy in Asia

ABA-ROLI is a public service project of the American Bar Association dedicated to promoting the rule of law around the world. Currently, ABA-ROLI is exploring legal issues related to climate change in several geographic regions, including strategies that lawyers can use to incorporate climate change into their litigation and advocacy efforts on the national, regional, and international levels. To date, such efforts have included local environmental issues such as pollution and natural resource depletion, but have generally not focused on climate change. The role of the LIDS team will be to research and draft a memo that describes major issues related to climate change and legal avenues that environmental lawyers in several regions could use to leverage climate change issues in their litigation and advocacy efforts.


1. TechnoServe, Tanzania
Horticulture Policy

TechnoServe’s office in Dar es Salaam won a sizable grant from USAID to increase the livelihoods of farmers in various horticultural sub-sectors: avocados, fresh fruits, tomatoes, etc. The Country Director asked LIDS to put together a small team of students dedicated to understanding the relevant issues and prescribing a policy framework for the relevant horticultural sectors that TechnoServe could then propose to the government. The purpose of this project was to help TechnoServe’s Tanzanian office develop a perspective on the types of public policy needed from the government to support TechnoServe’s efforts in the horticultural (fresh fruit and veg.) sector.

2. Liberian Ministry of Justice
Policy Development on Probation and Parole

This team worked directly with the Liberian Ministry of Justice, collaborating with a local Liberian lawyer and an American legal fellow on the development of a draft policy to amend and enforce national legislation on probation and parole. The team assessed the existing national legislation governing probation and parole, and conducted a comparative analysis of the effectiveness, context and constraints of regional probation and parole systems in Anglophone African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. The final work product consisted of a concept paper/draft policy that the Justice Minister could use for pitching the probation and parole policy, and comparative research on other probation/parole systems.

3. Root Capital
Research into Arbitration and Litigation Mechanisms

Root Capital, a non-profit social investment fund, works with small businesses in developing countries to provide capital, financial education, and networking opportunities. In response to these enforceability concerns, Root Capital is considering the use of international arbitration as an alternative to litigation. This team worked to research countries regarding their various arbitration and litigation mechanisms and to provide recommendations on arbitration locations and institutions for each country.

4. International Rescue Committee, Thailand
Research on Program Models for Mobile Legal Clinics and Paralegal Networks

While most refugee dialogue in Thailand focuses on the 150,000 refugees in the border camps, there are up to 3 million Burmese in Thailand in urban and often remote rural areas.  It is estimated that about 50% of them may have a legitimate claim to asylum.  Most have currently no legal status in Thailand, have trouble accessing services, and are extremely vulnerable to various forms of abuse and exploitation, enjoying little or no protection from the law. IRC-Thailand is looking to develop a model to provide legal assistance programming in the refugee/migrant community outside of the camps. LIDS researched Legal Assistance Models for assistance and access to justice in urban/semi-urban settings and in situations similar to Thailand, e.g. Kenya, Ecuador, etc. and drafted a memo with regards to the specific jurisdictions and programs researched and recommendations for the situation in Thailand.

5. International Rescue Committee, Thailand
Research on the Effective Measurement of Access to Justice Interventions

The IRC has been implementing an Access to Justice project (“Legal Assistance Centers” – LAC) for Burmese refugees in three camp sites in Thailand since 2006. The Legal Assistance Center project strategically focuses on improving access to justice and protection of refugees by developing the capacity of the refugee camp leadership and justice system to resolve civil and less serious criminal issues equitably; engaging Royal Thai Government (RTG) authorities on refugee justice issues; and developing the legal knowledge of the community. Throughout this project, it has been necessary to develop tools for the effective measurement of the impact of these kinds of ‘access to justice’ projects and others of similar nature, and IRC requested that LIDS research Effective Measurement of Impact of access to justice interventions and draft a memo with its findings and conclusions based on research regarding methods for measuring impacts of access to justice interventions.

6. Nuru International
Contract Development

This team continued to work with Nuru International, a non-profit organization that conducts community development work in Kuria, Kenya.  The team developed model contracts, using a base contract that another LIDS team developed in Fall 2009, that Nuru will be able to utilize in developing partnerships with other development organizations.  This team built on the work of the previous LIDS team to continue researching national and international norms and regulations that govern these agreements and developed additional model contracts to be used in future negotiations.


1. Nuru International
Contract Agreement Drafting
This team worked closely with Nuru International staff to develop contracts to formalize the current agreements Nuru has with other partner organizations who conduct a variety of development projects in Kuria, Kenya. The team researched best practices in contract drafting as well as national and international norms and regulations that govern these agreements. Deliverables for this project included draft contracts for each of the existing partnerships as well as a framework agreement for the organization to use in future negotiations.

2. Nuru International
Farm-Program Evaluation
LIDS conducted both an evaluation of the current Nuru farm savings and loan program as well as researched existing best practices and regulations related to regional and village banking systems in the developing world. In addition to providing a thorough evaluation, the team drafted recommendations for Nuru as they consider transitioning the current program into a village bank for the community in Kuria, Kenya.

3. Technoserve Tanzania
Global Policy-Change Approach

This team worked to develop a global framework that Technoserve offices around the world will be able to use to implement and pursue policy change. The team researched and evaluated approaches taken by other policy and legal NGOs and developed an approach with recommendations for grassroots organization and top-down lobbying.

4. Technoserve Tanzania
Cocoa Policy Reforms

The purpose of this proposed project was to assess the policy environment in the Tanzanian cocoa sector and explore opportunities to change it, with a view to improving the viability of the cocoa sector for smallholder farmers. Working remotely from the United States, the LIDS team provided TechnoServe Tanzania with in-depth legal and policy analysis of the issues relevant to the cocoa sector, including: surveying the policy regimes governing the production, planting, grading, harvesting, handling, storage and sale of cocoa in countries around the world, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. This project involved research on regulatory regimes and significant economic/business analysis of different regulatory models.

5. Advocates for International Development
Legal Aid Provision Research

A4ID is working to create a comprehensive manual that provides information about the status of legal aid provision in developing countries around the world. This team worked to report on a number of countries in order to further A4ID’s mission to facilitate access to free legal aid services to governments, individuals, civil society organizations, etc.

6. World Learning International Development Programs
Contract Agreement Drafting

This team worked with World Learning staff to develop contracts and agreements that will facilitate their international development work.  Similar to the Nuru International contract agreement drafting project, the team researched best practices in contract drafting as well as national and international norms and regulations that govern such agreements.

7. MIT J-Poverty Action Lab
Support Research and Programming

J-PAL is working to introduce water-chlorinators at water supply areas to reduce health problems and improve sanitation in Kenya. This team supported that work through policy research regarding regulations about the distribution of such devices, help with the implementation of policy, and help drafting model contracts related to their work.

8. Kiva (with Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, LLP)
National Microfinance Regulations and Strategy Implications
This team worked with Kiva, a leading global microfinance organization that allows private individuals to make loans online to entrepreneurs in the developing world. Kiva currently works with MFIs in dozens of countries around the world. It is actively trying to understand the laws governing its microfinance activities in each of these states, in an effort to modify its business strategy to comply with the regulatory regime. This team drafted country-specific memos describing the regulatory environment and implications for Kiva. The ‘working team’ included both the LIDS team and attorneys from Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, LLP. Orrick is a leading law firm with substantial expertise in the microfinance sector and a strong track record of pro bono work for development-community NGOs.