About the Institute

What is lawfare?


Lawfare is the misuse and abuse of law for political and military ends. It is the injunction of the words law and warfare for it is a legal war.

The Lawfare Institute shall be dedicate to lawfare for political purposes.

The term lawfare was created in 2001 by US army major General Charles Dunlap, and has been studied ever since in major universities such as Harvard, for example. Lawfare is a powerful weapon for fighting political enemies, combining apparently legal actions and widespread media coverage. The idea is to embarrass the enemy to the point where they become extremely vulnerable to the baseless accusations. once weakened, they lose popular support and any power of reaction.

To destroy someone, lawfare is using the following tactics: abuse existing laws to delegitimize and harm the adversary´s public image; use of legal procedures to restrain their freedom, to intimidate them; to silence them; influence public opinion negatively to anticipate judgments and curtail their right to an unbiased defense; constrain public agents and bring retaliations against the politicians to hamper legal defense mechanisms; tactical manipulation of a false cause and attempt to harass and embarrass defense lawyers.



The Institute was born in São Paulo, in 2017, through the initiative of the attorneys Valeska Teixeira Martins, Cristiano Zanin Martins, and Rafael Valim, within a context of increasing numbers of lawfare cases throughout the globe. The Institute’s opening ceremony was held at SOAS University of London, on December 5th, 2017.



The Institute fundamentally intends to conduct multidisciplinary researches on lawfare and to diagnose and inform against lawfare cases throughout the globe. Thus, we intend to contribute for the defense of the Rule of Law and for the full affirmation of human rights.