Vance Center Joins Annual Meeting of International Legal Assistance Consortium

June 2019

(Photo Credit: Vanessa Passos Araújo)

Vance Center Programs Director Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste joined other members and staff of the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) at its Annual General Meeting hosted by the Law Society of England and Wales in London. ILAC, a consortium of more than 50 legal organizations from all over the world, brings together their collective expertise to help rebuild justice systems in countries transitioning from conflict to peace and democracy. The Vance Center has participated since 2013, and Jean-Baptiste joined the ILAC Advisory Council this year.

As part of ILAC’s year-long review of its monitoring and evaluation methodology, Jean-Baptiste delivered a presentation at a panel discussion on ILAC’s Assessment and Legal Analysis Work. ILAC regularly draws on its international membership to conduct rule-of-law assessments in countries immediately post-conflict or in transition. These assessments serve as a guide for national stakeholders and the international community on how to invest in programming and infrastructure to rebuild the justice sector and/or other key institutions.

In her presentation, Jean-Baptiste reflected on her experience with ILAC assessments. She travelled to the Central African Republic in 2016 on a pre-assessment mission and returned that same year as part of a group of ILAC experts to conduct an assessment of the country’s criminal justice sector. Jean-Baptiste also worked with ILAC from 2009 to 2012 on a project to develop a national legal aid system in Haiti through the creation of a network of legal aid offices. She specifically led international volunteer lawyers to provide training and support to lawyers and legal interns at the legal aid offices.

Drawing on that experience, Ms. Jean-Baptiste offered some key suggestions on improving ILAC’s assessments in responding to the changing landscape of conflicts and post-conflict transitions worldwide. These include the need for more comprehensive pre-assessment desk study, a more strategic approach regarding the dissemination of the assessment report, and review of recommendations with national and international partners.

Jean-Baptiste also highlighted the importance of gender-mainstreaming as best practice in all assessments and pre-assessment activities. She called for a similar approach in regards to other vulnerable groups such as LGBT people, indigenous groups, and people with disabilities, depending on the country where the assessment is taking place and the specific focus of the assessment. Other ILAC members responded to the presentation in a discussion of how ILAC assessments can maintain their relevance and efficiency in the face of growing challenges worldwide.