Vance Center Hosts Discussion on Pro Bono Work and Rule of Law in Africa and Latin America

June 2023

The Vance Center and the Pro Bono Network of the Americas hosted an event on June 5 to explore common challenges to the rule of law in Latin America and Africa and identify ways for the pro bono community to uphold justice.

Participants in the roundtable discussion. (Photo credit: Vance Center)

About 30 people representing 15 countries, including Vance Center Committee members Antonia Stolper, S. Todd Crider, and Hunter Carter, attended the event, titled “Upholding the Rule of Law through Pro Bono Work: Experiences from Latin America and Africa.”  

The program began with a keynote address by Ambassador Hernán Pérez Loose, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations. Ambassador Pérez Loose spoke about the importance of the rule of law for development and human rights and emphasized its essential role in ensuring that everyone, regardless of social status or economic background, has equal access to justice. 

Following the Ambassador’s remarks, a group of lawyers from Latin America and Africa with experience in pro bono projects related to the rule of law participated in a roundtable discussion, led by Vance Center Latin America Policy Director Jaime Chávez Alor and Africa Program Director Adaobi Egboka. The participants discussed a variety of topics, including challenges in providing legal assistance to people in need and the importance of building partnerships with local clearinghouses to address structural and systemic issues. Participants also shared ideas for how members of the pro bono community can work together to uphold the rule of law, such as: 

  • Supporting the judiciary and protecting judicial independence to guarantee checks and balances. 
  • Advocating for national laws and policies that promote public safety, using legal expertise to help shape laws and policies to make communities safer. 
  • Creating more legal education projects to help people understand their rights and how to exercise them. 
  • Bringing together representatives of different sectors of the legal community to ensure their voices are heard in critical spaces. 

Participants described the event as a valuable opportunity to share their experiences and learn from one another, while raising awareness about the importance of rule of law and the pro bono legal community’s essential role in protecting it. 

Participants in the roundtable discussion, socializing after the event

Photo credit: Vance Center