The Vance Center advances global justice by engaging lawyers across borders to support civil society and an ethically active legal profession.

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The Vance Center Releases 2015-2016 Annual Appeal

Dear Friend,


This is the time of year when the Vance Center calls you and others together to provide financial support for our work, and we greatly appreciate and depend on your continued generosity. Please click here to donate.

This annual gathering is just one of many that the Vance Center organizes, and the others -- of many varieties -- all involve pro bono participation by lawyers and others committed to social justice worldwide. You might say that the Vance Center's main strength is the power of pro bono convening.

This May, our Programs Director Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste joined with El Rosario University in Bogota, Colombia to convene government, media and civil society representatives to assess the ongoing negotiations between the Colombian government and the main rebel group to end that country's 50-year civil conflict.  Based on her ongoing collaboration at the International Criminal Court, she arranged for the ICC Deputy Prosecutor to speak at the event, and his remarks, alongside those of Colombia's negotiators and other high officials, facilitated a breakthrough this fall when the parties announced agreement on a transitional justice process.

When Human Rights Watch called Marie-Claude this spring for help with an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the pending marriage-equality case, she did more gathering, recruiting lawyers in Argentina, Canada, Holland, and South Africa to work with Vance Center Committee member Rick Levine and fellow litigators at Weil Gotshal & Manges.  The brief described how those countries had incorporated same-sex marriage into their legal systems and societies without disruption, much as the United States now is doing.

When nations assemble this month in Paris for climate change negotiations, Vance Center Environment Program Director Susan Kath will join them as member of the American Society of International Law observer group.  Susan earlier this year teamed up with pro bono lawyers at Cleary Gottlieb to help the Legal Response Initiative to advise poor and particularly climate-vulnerable developing countries to prepare for the negotiations.


The Vance Center Women in the Profession program attracts wide and energetic participation throughout the Western Hemisphere, so far with annual gatherings in 8 countries.  In 2016, we will convene more than 100 U.S. and Latin American lawyers in Rio de Janeiro to consider and counsel each other how to improve opportunities and conditions for women in the legal profession of Brazil and the rest of the continent.


The Vance Center's most ambitious gathering is approaching soon.  This December, we will host at the New York City Bar Association the 2015 Legal Summit of the Americas.  85 leading lawyers from firms, academia, and civil society in 16 Latin American countries and the United States will gather to consider how the legal profession can further support democratic governance and open society in Latin America where corruption scandals, renewed state-sponsored populism, and widening inequality are challenging rule of law and social justice.

Leadership of our efforts itself is pro bono. Members of the Vance Center Committee who create and guide so many of our programs indeed also provide much of our funding; however, we must call on a wider circle of lawyers and others successful in their various professions to help as well.  This vital individual support gets multiplied many times over by the foundation grants it enables us to raise and the pro bono engagement of hundreds of lawyers contributing thousands of hours.

Please contribute what you can to the Vance Center and help bring lawyers worldwide together to pursue social justice. Please click here to donate.


With gratitude,

Alexander Papachristou

Executive Director


P.S.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and also visit our website at


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VANCE CENTER BULLETIN: The Bashir Debacle: How South Africa Betrayed Itself and the World

By Justice Richard Goldstone and Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste

The South African government stunned the world on Monday when it allowed Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir to leave its territory in violation of an order from its own High Court. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. South Africa claimed to be bound by an AU policy requiring states not to cooperate with the ICC for the arrest and surrender of President Bashir and the principle of head of state immunity under international law.  Both claims are false. South Africa's failure to arrest Bashir and surrender him to the ICC is a violation of its international obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC and the Genocide Convention to which it is party. That the ruling ANC would choose to deny thousands of victims in Darfur the justice for which it fought so hard during apartheid is perverse, as well as immoral and the undermining of the authority of the ICC  is inexcusable. Former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone expressed its sadness that the "South African Government has now apparently flouted an order of the High Court." "I would hope that if indeed the order was willfully disregarded, that contempt proceedings will be instituted against those officials responsible for this violation of the law and of the Constitution." said Justice Goldstone.

( Read Full Bulletin Here)


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Transitional Justice in Colombia and the Role of The International Criminal Court

Bogota, Colombia

May 13, 2015


The Vance Center and Universidad del Rosario will host a high-level conference on “Transitional Justice in Colombia and the Role of The International Criminal Court (ICC)” in Bogota, Colombia on May 13,2015. The event coincides with the ongoing peace negotiations between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC in Havana, Cuba. ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart will deliver a keynote address, and Colombia’s attorney general, inspector general, and chief peace negotiator will participate, along with representatives of Colombian civil society and media. For the complete agenda of the conference please click here.


For more information please click here

To regiser for the event please click here

To view the livestream please click here


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Vance Center - Latin Lawyer 2014 Pro Bono Survey Results

The Vance Center for the third year in a row has teamed up with Latin Lawyer to conduct an annual survey of pro bono practice in Latin America.  The survey measures the level of pro bono work by law firms in the region but also their institutionalization of pro bono practice. The Vance Center worked closely with Latin Lawyer and pro bono clearinghouses in the region to strengthen the content and distribution of the survey. You may access a full report on the survey results here.


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Princeton in Latin America Fellow Guy Mentel Reflects on Fellowship

The first Princeton in Latin America/Vance Center Fellow Guy Mentel is currently completing a year long fellowship at Fundación Pro Bono Colombia, where he is assisting with several ongoing and new initiatives. To read his notes on his work in Colombia, click here.


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President Barack Obama's nominee for United States Attorney General, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, speaks on the Vance Center.