Newsletter of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice

 April, 2012
In This Issue

About the Cyrus Vance Center


The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar mobilizes the global legal profession to engage in activities that promote social justice, human rights and democratic values and principles. We perform our work in partnership with private- and public-sector lawyers, members of the judiciary, law schools, and nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) in the regions where we work.



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New PBDA Signatory

Consulegis Abogados, Ecuador



Promoting Access to Public Information  in Africa 


Through lawyers at several U.S. law firms, the Vance Center is helping the Africa Freedom of Information Centre ("AFIC"), a pan-African, Uganda-based NGO, review  freedom of information ("FOI") laws or proposed FOI bills of various African countries. Lawyers at Morrison & Foerster are looking at drafts of bills for Kenya and Zambia; lawyers at Mayer Brown are evaluating an Angolan law; lawyers at Shearman & Sterling are assessing a Zimbabwean law; and lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom are reviewing drafts of bills for Guinea and Niger and a draft of a model FOI law for the Economic Community of West African States. Each firm is preparing a memorandum that will explain if and how the law or bill falls short of certain FOI standards and make recommendations for amending the law or bill in a way that will bring it into compliance with those standards. AFIC and its member organizations will use the memoranda in their efforts to advocate for improved FOI laws.


Inter-American Court of Human Rights

IACHR Decision in Atala Case  


The Inter-American Court of Human Rights recently issued a decision in the case Karen Atala v. Chile, condemning the Chilean government for denying a judge custody of her three daughters because she is a lesbian. The tribunal awarded monetary damages to Magistrate Atala, claiming that  Chile violated her right to privacy. The Vance Center's Clearinghouse collaborated with Morrison & Foerster to submit an amicus curiae brief  arguing that Chile had violated Atala's human rights by discriminating against her on the basis of her sexual orientation. To read the Inter-American Court decision, click here. To read an article on the case in Chilean newspaper La Tercera, click here.



Spain: Pro Bono Event

Vance Committee Vice-Chair Todd Crider and former Vance Committee Member Andres Gil spoke at a conference held in Caixafórum, Spain in February organized by the Bar of Madrid. Both Vance Center representatives were quoted extensively in two articles published in Spanish in diariojuridico.com.  "In the context of the current crisis in public assistance, the private sector must move to the front and serve as the engine for Pro Bono in the coming years," stated Mr. Crider. Mr. Gil stated, "Pro Bono is an ethical obligation of each individual attorney." Click here to read the full article on the future of pro bono and click here to read the full article on collaboration among law firms to promote pro bono.   
Madrid Bar
Michael O'Flaherty on Freedom of Expression


The Vance Center co-sponsored an event  at the New York City Bar on March 13 at which Michael O'Flaherty spoke on "International Law on Freedom of Expression and Information." Mr. O'Flaherty is Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and is a member and Vice Chairperson of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The event also featured three other speakers with expertise on access to information: Sandra Coliver, the Senior Legal Officer for Freedom of Information and Expression for the Open Society Justice Initiative; David McCraw, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of The New York Times Company and member of the advisory committee to the Vance Center; and Steven Shapiro, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. The moderator was Elizabeth Millard, Managing Director of the Vance Center.