Vance Center Celebrates International Pro Bono Excellence

October 2019

(From Left: Evan Wolfson, Hunter Carter, Ciro Colombara and Alex Papachristou | Photo Credit: Jay McClinton)

The Vance Center held its fourth annual Celebration of International Pro Bono Excellence recognizing the pro bono achievements of five law firms and giving special recognition to Vance Center Committee member Hunter Carter of Arent Fox and Ciro Colombara of Rivadeneira, Colombara, Zegers Abogados (Chile).  More than 60 celebrants attended at the New York City Bar Association.

New York City Bar Association President Roger Maldonado kicked off the celebration and described his experiences with the Vance Center, including attending a conference in Colombia on women’s incarceration, and participating in meetings with lawyers from Latin America and Africa.

Environment Program Director Susan Kath presented two pro bono projects related to the right to a healthy environment:

  1. Weil received recognition for an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Human Rights Watch before the Supreme Court of Chile, which ruled that many years of pollution from industrial facilities violated the right of residents of Quintero and Puchuncaví to a pollution-free environment, accepting international law arguments raised in the brief.
  2. Clifford Chance was recognized for leading a global survey for  UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment David Boyd, to determine which UN member states recognize a human right to a healthy environment in their domestic laws which he will present at the UN General Assembly later this year.

Richard Levine and Jay Minga of Weil and Janet Whittaker and Carla Lewis of Clifford Chance accepted the recognitions respectively.

Human Rights and Access to Justice Programs Director Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste also presented two projects:

  1. Paul Hastings received recognition for analyzing the legal obligations of private media outlets to respect LGBTI rights under the laws of Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, as well as international law, so that Asociacion Legal Para La Diversidad Sexual De El Salvador can sensitize El Salvador’s media about the significant stigmatization facing that country’s LGBTI community.
  2. Hughes Hubbard & Reed was recognized for advising Proetica of Peru on the feasibility of international prosecution of violent acts committed against protesters in Venezuela, in support of Proetica’s communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Michael Fitzgerald and Veronica Rodriguez of Paul Hastings accepted the recognition and also presented a video that they prepared to explain the project and express appreciation for the project.

Vance Center Latin America Policy Manager Jaime Chavez Alor presented a project for the Good Governance Program:

  1. Baker McKenzie received recognition for analyzing the rules on legal ethics in ten Latin American jurisdictions for Acción Ciudadana, in support of its efforts to reform the Guatemalan bar association’s rules of professional responsibility and prevent and redress corruption.

Clyde (Skip) Rankin accepted the recognition on behalf of Baker McKenzie.

The Vance Center gave special recognition to Vance Center Committee member Hunter Carter and close collaborator Ciro Colombara for their intrepid, Innovative legal campaign to secure marriage equality in Latin America through Amamericas, a coalition of lawyers and advocates litigating in Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Chile, as well as the Inter-American Human Rights System.  Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, the pioneering campaign that won same-sex couples the right to marry throughout the United States, presented the special recognition.

Please see the full program of the Vance Center’s Celebration here.

If you want to see more pictures click here.