Vance Center Participates in Pro Bono Network Roundtable in Costa Rica
Vance Center Committee Latin America Vice-Chair Antonia Stolper and Latin America Policy Director Jaime Chávez Alor last week joined a two-day roundtable organized by the Pro Bono Network of the Americas in San José, Costa Rica.
Participants at the Pro Bono Network of the Americas roundtable on civic space, San José, Costa Rica. Photo credit: Vance Center
Pro Bono Network co-coordinators Ignacio Obando and Chávez Alor conducted the roundtable, which focused on the role of pro bono work in strengthening civic space in Central America. Participants included clearinghouse members of the Network from Fundación Pro Bono Guatemala, Appleseed Mexico, and Fundación Pro Bono Colombia, as well as civil society organizations from Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and representatives from law firms Consortium Legal, Tactic, and Aguilar Castillo Love.
The roundtable included presentations about the challenges civil society organizations in the region face in terms of civic space and their activities. Organizations described specific concerns, ranging from legislation and regulations that violate international standards on freedom of association to specific constraints imposed on civic space through legal mechanisms like mandatory reporting obligations and registration. Participants expressed that the ongoing criminalization of civil society organizations remains a major concern in many of the countries represented at the roundtable and described the continued need for greater support for their substantive work.
The Network co-coordinators and clearinghouse participants outlined the structure, benefits, and limitations of pro bono work available to civil society organizations through the Network and identified potential opportunities for collaboration.
To support a healthy civic space and the activities of civil society groups, the Pro Bono Network plans to publish a general guide on laws related to NGOs in 13 Latin American countries and create an online form enabling organizations to directly request pro bono support.
The same week, the Costa Rican chapter of the Women in the Profession (WIP) program organized an event with INCAE Business School to discuss challenges for women lawyers. Vance Center Committee Latin America Vice-Chair Antonia Stolper provided welcome remarks, outlining the role of the WIP program and its chapters across the region and highlighting concrete achievements in strengthening participation of women lawyers in the legal community. She also applauded the efforts of Costa Rican chapter president Tatiana Rojas and the chapter’s work, which focuses on three primary pillars: leadership, mentoring, and pro bono work. Stolper concluded by talking about the importance of women’s participation in strengthening the legal profession. The evening event also included presentations on conscious leadership and current challenges for CEOs.