Newsletter of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice
 June, 2012
In This Issue

Freedom of Information in Chile
Welcome to Carey Dunne
Petition on Same-Sex Marriage in Chile
ACE Rule of Law Grant
Spotlight: ProVene
Congratulations to Carlos Ayala
Sarah Reimers

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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  Laundry Woman
Street Vendor
Car Repairmen
Photos by C. Walker

Freedom of Information in Chile
Seal of Constitutional Tribunal


The Vance Center, in conjunction with the New York City Bar Committee on Communications and Media Law, submitted an amicus brief to the Constitutional Tribunal of Chile regarding the constitutionality of the Chilean law on access to public information. The case concerns a request made by the City of Melipilla for access to electronic correspondence sent to and from Chilean government e-mail addresses regarding government aid following the earthquake of 2010.   The amicus brief was prepared at the request of Fundación Pro Bono Chile, a Chilean non-profit organization and the Vance Center's main partner in Chile. The brief provides an overview of the way in which U.S. freedom of information laws have been interpreted with regard to electronic communications, in the hope that this analysis might be of assistance to the Constitutional Tribunal in its deliberations.   Chile is the first South American country to deal with access to government e-mails as a transparency matter. This case is therefore highly significant both for the precedent it will set in Chile as well as for the example it will provide to other jurisdictions in the region.


Welcome to Carey Dunne

Carey Dunne

 The Vance Center welcomes Carey R. Dunne, the incoming President of the New York City Bar, of which the Vance Center is a key committee. In recent remarks, Mr. Dunne laid out his vision of the Vance Center: "I see our Vance Center for International Justice as playing a role very much like the role played by our founders in 1870. Back then, we in the United States had a constitution, courts with judges, and a nascent legal system. But the problem was that, in practice, the system didn't work because it was fraught with corruption in the courts. The message that the Vance Center is bringing to lawyers in developing countries is: Here's how you can do it; here's how you can take your new constitution and your evolving legal structures and use your influence as lawyers to bring about a truly democratic legal system in your country, too." 


IACHR Petition on Same-Sex Marriage in Chile 
Hunter Carter



Under the auspices of the Vance Center, Hunter Carter, Vance Center Committee Member and Partner at Arent Fox, together with Ciro Colombara, a prominent Chilean human rights lawyer and Board Member of Fundación Pro Bono Chile, filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. The petition alleges that Chilean law, which prohibits civil matrimony between same-sex partners and denies recognition of same-sex marriages wherever obtained, violates the American Convention on Human Rights. The client in the case is MOVILH, the leading Chilean LGBTI rights organization. The petition, filed in May, denounces the denial of a marriage permit to a same-sex couple seeking to marry in Chile, and also denounces Chile's refusal to recognize the marriages of two same-sex couples who were legally married in Argentina and Canada, respectively. The petition argues that Chile should permit same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights and obligations of marriage as opposite-sex couples. According to Mr. Carter, this case is especially significant because "Our client, MOVILH, has been fighting a tough struggle for the rights of LGBTI persons in Chile, and only after a recent, brutal bashing death has Chile even adopted a non-discrimination statute. Most people in the Americas - over three-fourths - live in a country or state where same-sex marriage is legal, or where same-sex marriages from elsewhere are legally recognized. Several additional jurisdictions have taken the half-measure of allowing or recognizing 'civil unions' of same-sex couples, which only have some of the rights and duties - and none of the status - conferred by legal marriage. By standing with MOVILH, we can help demonstrate, on a hemispheric basis, that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is irrational and harmful."


Ace Rule of Law Fund Grant 


The Vance Center has just received a $30,000 grant from the ACE Rule of Law Fund. The grant will fund a pilot training program this fall for U.S. and Latin American lawyers in pro bono representation of petitioners before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  Such representation will address the need that many petitioners have for legal assistance and enhance the efficiency of the Commission.  The ACE Rule of Law Fund is a unique partnership among ACE Group, its legal staff and several of its partner law firms that supports projects to enhance the rule of law around the world. The Fund is financed by the voluntary contributions of ACE lawyers, matched by ACE's charitable foundation, its general counsel and by its partner firms. The ACE Group is one of the world's largest multiline property and casualty insurers with operations in 53 countries.  We thank the ACE Group, its Rule of Law Fund and Robert Cusumano, Vance Center Committee Member and General Counsel of ACE Group, for this important support.



Spotlight: Pro Bono in Venezuela
Liberados en Marcha Logo


Our Venezuelan partner ProVene is providing legal assistance to Liberados en Marcha, a foundation that helps ex-convicts  transition back into society. Many ex-convicts in Barrio El Milagro face challenges upon release from incarceration and need help to find jobs, locate housing, obtain retraining and reintegrate into communities. Attorneys from ProVene
visit the offices of Liberados en Marcha every two weeks to meet with recently released convicts and provide them with necessary legal assistance.  For more information on ProVene, click here.  


Congratulations to Carlos Ayala
Carlos Ayala gif


The Vance Center congratulates our longstanding colleague Carlos Ayala, who was incorporated into the Academia de Ciencias Politicas y Sociales of Venezuela on May 8. Over the course of his illustrious career, Mr. Ayala  has served as Commissioner of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, President of the Andean Commission of Jurists, and law professor at several universities. He has also authoried numerous publications on constitutional and human rights law.  Four years ago at a conference hosted by the Vance Center in Arusha, Tanzania, he counselled the then newly formed African Court of Human and People's Rights on lessons learned from the older Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He subsequently travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a seminar on South-South collaboration between advocates in the Inter-American and African tribunals. He has also served as an advisor on the development of several amicus briefs that the New York City Bar has drafted and submitted before the Inter-American Court regarding due process of law, freedom of expression and judicial independence in Venezuela.   


Sarah Reimers, Summer Legal Intern
Sarah Reimers


We are pleased to announce that Sarah Reimers will be serving as a summer legal intern at the Vance Center. A magna cum laude graduate of Wake Forest University, Sarah is currently a rising second-year law student at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Formerly, Sarah was employed by the International Justice Mission in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she worked to prevent human trafficking, provided aftercare and legal representation to trafficking victims, and coordinated with local prosecutors and police. "My experiences in Cambodia led me to want to pursue a career in international human rights law," Sarah stated. "I am thrilled to be able to intern at the Vance Center given its strong reputation in that area."