The Law and Economy programme is founded on Sri Lanka’s commitments to operationalising international treaties and laws. Specifically, it draws on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Directive Principles of State Policy in Sri Lanka’s Constitution and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to improve the lives of people.
LST has had a long interest in law and the economy having organized the national law and economy conference, consecutively for many years throughout the 1990s. Over time, LST has come to articulate a distinct critique of the neo-liberal economic model and has focused its attention on economic vulnerabilities and marginalization, especially within the rural economy. The programme’s recent work has focused on indebtedness and micro-finance, changing labour relations and land rights.
The Trust is committed to strengthening local communities in their struggles for land rights and social justice. Through this programme, LST highlights the centrality of land in the lives of individuals and communities in Sri Lanka. It conducts research and analysis of government policies on land, including land ownership, usage and development, and works closely with government officials and communities in developing equitable land use policies.
LST also focuses on promoting community and environmentally friendly urban development. LST supports the communities to know their rights, to articulate their needs in development processes including relocation processes, and to ensure that communities are supported throughout.
The Trust provides Trade Unions with strategic support while continuing to advocate that businesses engage with Trade Unions on human rights issues. In a changing world of work, the Trust facilitates learning from other countries in introducing alternative forms of mobilization and protection networks for privatized and informal sector workers.
Indebtedness has emerged as a defining characteristic of the rural economy, with many families unwittingly turning to microfinance credit on easy terms of access that are also linked to high interest rates. LST carries out research on the grievances of those affected by this debt and provides recommendations to the government to establish a regulatory framework and mechanisms for the oversight of microfinance institutions. LST supports financial literacy programmes for the affected communities and establishes dialogue platforms for communities to express their concerns to government at the local and national levels.