Fundación Construir

Fundación Construir’s Story

Following President Evo Morales’s electoral victory, the Bolivian Constituent Assembly convened on August 6, 2006, with the purpose of drafting a new national constitution. Fundación Construir began as a panel of experts hired to advise the Assembly on how to integrate western and indigenous legal systems in the new constitution, ensuring an emphasis on the many different national groups that make up Bolivia. By enabling dialogue between politicians, judges and indigenous communities, the panel contributed to three historic articles recognizing traditional indigenous practices of law and conflict resolution.

The panel of experts became Fundación Construir in 2008, and since then it has continued helping policy-makers, judges, and indigenous communities implement the new constitution’s inclusive vision of the law, to build a pluralistic Bolivia. Construir, indeed, means “to build.” It is not an easy task. Bolivia has 36 official languages, 50 indigenous nations, and more than 2,000 different legal systems. It is a polarized country where consensus is hard to reach.

Construir works as a think tank and a convener. It produces valuable research, such as a comprehensive mapping of indigenous legal systems, and then acts as a link between the state and indigenous communities, ensuring that best practices are followed when jurisdictions work together. Construir also provides training in indigenous communities to ensure their full integration within the justice system and trains judges and other public servants to help them advance respect for traditional indigenous justice.

Construir has also helped develop the skills of hundreds of indigenous women, who now act as community leaders linking remote communities with institutions. These women have been granted the legal status of “community advocates” and have been instrumental in the fight against human trafficking and violence against women and children.

In a country with so many disparate groups and challenges, the work of Construir can be a balancing act. It is sustained by a belief in human rights and a pluralist vision of justice, one that represents every single member of Bolivia’s diverse population.

Namati Kenya

“Being recognized as a winner of the Global Pluralism Award for this work is a true honor. It is a testament to the idea that everyone – even those who have long been at the margins – can be an agent of change in creating a pluralistic society.”

Mustafa Mahmoud, Namati Kenya

Namati Kenya’s story

Botul, a mother of four and a member of Kenya’s Nubian community, was told that her children could no longer attend school because they did not have birth certificates. She could not apply for their birth certificates, however, until she received an identity (ID) card. In Kenya, a national ID card is required to vote, to move freely around the country and to access basic services, such as health care, education and employment. Unfortunately, obtaining an ID card is not easy for someone like Botul. As a member of one of Kenya’s predominately Muslim communities, she is one of five-million Kenyans who face a discriminatory vetting process when trying to acquire basic legal identity documents. While most Kenyans can acquire an ID card in a few weeks, many others from minority ethnic groups that are predominantly Muslim wait months or years—or never receive documents at all.

Botul eventually found the guidance she needed through Zena, a community paralegal trained by Namati Kenya. Zena helped Botul understand her rights and supported her through every step of the ID application process. Botul was able to obtain her ID and immediately applied for her children’s birth certificates. Now, while her children attend school, Botul is busy sharing her new knowledge with her community.

Through its Citizenship Justice program, Namati Kenya trains and deploys community paralegals to support and empower marginalized citizens to understand, use and—eventually—shape the law. Since 2013, Namati Kenya’s paralegals have assisted over 12,000 Kenyans apply for legal identity documents. With data collected from these cases, the organization tracks patterns of discrimination across the country and pushes for systemic change. Namati Kenya also spreads legal awareness through grassroots mobilization, door-to-door outreach, community forums and a rights-based community radio show. Currently, Namati Kenya is leading advocacy efforts on amendments to Huduma Namba, a new national biometric ID system, to ensure no Kenyans are excluded.

Working with and through a coalition of partners, Namati Kenya brings diverse communities together to recognize their common challenges and to engage in a national dialogue about “who is Kenyan” and what it means to belong. Creating these connections across diverse communities is a fundamental step in the establishment of an inclusive, pluralistic society. Through their work on citizenship justice, Namati Kenya is transforming the law from an abstract system that serves a few to a powerful, practical tool that all of Kenya’s diverse citizens can use to improve their lives and build a society that honors the rights and dignity of all its members.

Kenya, home to nearly 50 million people, has an incredibly diverse population that includes over 40 ethnic groups representing four major language groups. The country is also religiously diverse, with a Christian majority, a sizeable Muslim minority and communities adhering to Hinduism, Sikhism and Indigenous religions. Following a contested election in 2008, violence erupted along ethnic lines. After months of conflict, a new constitution was drafted to recognize the pluralistic nature of Kenyan society. Despite this, many minority groups, particularly Muslim-majority communities, are considered outsiders and struggle to be recognized as full citizens.

Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales Asociación Civil


“This award offers an opportunity to highlight the struggles of youth in the South, racialized youth who resist the linguistic and cultural oppression of the State and its justice system. We reinvent ourselves, and we fight, together, from our territories”

Eduardo Martinez, Director-General and Legal Representative of Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales Asociación Civil


A group of young interpreters steps inside a prison in rural Oaxaca, Mexico. Like everywhere in this state, the prison is extremely diverse. Many of the people behind bars do not speak Spanish; they speak a variety of Indigenous languages. This will be their first opportunity in months to converse in their own language. In some cases, the Spanish-speaking court never communicated the charges against them. With the interpreters’ support, they can ask about their legal processes, and get the latest news about their communities. Later, the interpreters will connect this group to public defenders and ensure their legal rights are respected. 

The interpreters are members of Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales Asociación Civil (REDIN), a collective of Indigenous youth that strengthens access to justice for Indigenous people. REDIN provides culturally relevant Indigenous language interpretation services for Oaxacans involved in legal proceedings in Mexico and the United States.  

Oaxaca is a place of tremendous linguistic and cultural diversity, with 16 registered Indigenous groups and over 177 linguistic variants. Indigenous communities in the region face structural and historical racism. To escape limited economic opportunity and marginalization, many people migrate to other parts of Mexico and the United States. This often places Indigenous groups, youth, women and gender-diverse people in dangerous situations or in contact with legal systems that fail to understand their cultural, economic and political backgrounds. Once caught up in the justice system, interpretation for Indigenous languages is severally lacking.  

By training young professionals as interpreters equipped with an intercultural human rights approach, REDIN helps to guarantee the rights of Indigenous people at every step of the judicial process. Since 2019, REDIN has trained more than 120 Indigenous youth as interpreters and has assisted more than 800 Indigenous people in their judicial processes. Together with local justice institutions, REDIN produced a module for training Indigenous language interpreters in the field of prosecution and justice administration in Oaxaca.  

REDIN also offers training on human rights and civic engagement to Indigenous students, and helps preserve Oaxaca’s cultural diversity by documenting oral traditions and advocating for the rights of artisans.  

This network’s efforts are helping Oaxaca’s diverse population have their rights respected, their voices heard, and their cultures valued. Connecting with one of REDIN’s interpreters can change a prisoner’s life. Beyond that, REDIN is strengthening judicial systems, making them more inclusive and responsive to all of Mexico’s diverse citizenry.