In This Issue
Click the image below to see our new 2012 VANCE CENTER BROCHURE

The Vance Center

The Vance Center strengthens democratic transition by engaging lawyers across borders to advance fundamental justice in countries undertaking legal and institutional reform. 


The Vance Center is constituted by practicing lawyers committed to providing and promoting pro bono legal service to support civil society and social justice. The Center collaborates with the committees of the New York City Bar Association, law firms, NGO's, law schools and lawyers' organizations throughout the world.


The Vance Center premises its engagement on the unique role of lawyers as agents of good governance and the public interest: independent intermediaries implementing the procedures and principles comprising rule of law and advocating for the equality and rights of individuals.


The Vance Center employs the approach to international justice developed and practiced by the late Cyrus R. Vance, prominent private lawyer and former US Secretary of State: collaborative, pragmatic conflict resolution based on ironclad adherence to honest dealing and basic human rights. 

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October 2012
 Vance Center eNotes
Welcome to the Vance Center eNotes, where you can read about our organization's latest developments and projects.
Vance Center hosts OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza at NYC Bar



His Excellency José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), spoke at the New York City Bar Association on September 27 on the topic of "Strengthening the Inter-American System of Human Rights: Dialogue and Engagement." This event was hosted by The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, in collaboration with the New York City Bar Association's Council of International Affairs, Inter-American Affairs Committee, International Human Rights Committee, and International Law Committee. Carey R. Dunne, President of the NYC Bar Association provided welcoming remarks. 


Insulza Event
(NYC Bar Association President Carey R. Dunne; OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, Vance Center Executive Director Alexander Papachristou)

During his address, Secretary General Insulza stated that a crucial focus of the OAS is the promotion of human rights. He explained that the Inter-American human rights system comprises the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The purpose of the Commission is to protect and promote human rights, including by hearing petitions filed against member states of the OAS. The Court adjudicates human rights claims under the American Convention on Human Rights against states that have submitted to the Court's jurisdiction.

The Secretary General emphasized that the main strength of the Inter-American human rights system is the independence and credibility of its institutions. He identified several issues, including that the Court is not a universally recognized entity within the Americas and the decisions of the Commission are not binding, even though they are largely fulfilled. There also is a lack of monetary and human resources to keep up with the increasing number of cases brought to the system. At the same time, there is a lack of representation within the system due to a lack of access to these institutions, especially for people of low income.


According to Secretary General Insulza, the role of human rights within the Inter-American system has changed over time and has gradually become integrated with the foreign policy of states. The OAS will continue to work with the Inter-American system of human rights to provide access to justice for member states.


Legal Assistance for Haiti


The Vance Center is collaborating with Jurimédia, a Haitian human rights NGO, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP to promote legislative reform in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010.  Centered near Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital and economic center, the earthquake killed more than 230,000 people out of a population of fewer than ten million, injured at least 300,000 and destroyed the homes and livelihoods of a million other Haitians. Attorneys from Orrick are providing Jurimédia with pro bono legal assistance in connection with several projects intended to strengthen post-earthquake Haiti.


Palacio Nacional
The National Palace in Haiti after the January 2012 earthquake


Orrick will provide advice as to what steps Haiti will need to take in order to implement the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Haiti recently ratified, and advice regarding certain provisions to be contained in a new mining law. In addition, working with lawyers in Haiti, Orrick will analyze a draft law intended to strengthen local government in Haiti, a goal that has become more important than ever since the earthquake. 

Roundtable Event in São Paulo, Brazil


On September 14, the Vance Center, along with Instituto Pro Bono of Brazil and Latin Lawyer magazine, hosted a roundtable event at the law offices of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in São Paulo, Brazil. The event brought together representatives from fifteen of the largest law firms in Brazil as well as the legal departments of certain companies in an effort to assess the state of pro bono legal services in Brazil and discuss ways to promote a more robust pro bono culture throughout the country.

SaoPaolo Event
Vance Center's Todd Crider speaking at the pro bono roundtable event held at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in São Paolo, Brazil

During the roundtable, Todd Crider, Vice Chairman of the Vance Center, encouraged the participating firms to sign the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas, a Vance Center initiative subscribed to by more than 500 law firm  signatories in 17 countries. Signatories commit themselves to providing free legal representation to individuals and organizations who cannot afford such services. Participants were also urged to complete the joint Vance Center/Latin Lawyer pro bono survey, which prominent international banks including Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, BTG Pactual, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley have endorsed. The participants agreed on the importance of working collaboratively to advance pro bono service and a public interest ethic in Brazil.

Law Firm in Panama Signs the PBDA, Holds Legal Clinics to Empower Women 


Earlier this year, Morgan & Morgan became the first and only Panamanian law firm to sign the PBDA. It has also set the tone for pro bono work in Panama by successfully launching a series of legal workshops providing advice to communities throughout the provinces of Colón and Panama. These workshops cover topics including the rights of domestic violence victims, custody issues in divorce, and the right to alimony. In partnership with a legal non-profit organization in Panama known as Fundación de Asistencia Legal Comunitaria (Fundalcom), Morgan & Morgan has organized seven workshops since the program was launched in early 2012 and has counseled more than 270 people (over 80% female) in family law matters.


A Morgan & Morgan spokesperson explained that, because workshop participants typically do not have access to basic legal guidance, the workshops are critical as a way to "raise social awareness on the problem of domestic violence in [the] country, offer victims the opportunity to recognize these situations, learn how to react to them, and fight back through legal means" when they otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do so. Morgan & Morgan also understands that engaging in pro bono work on an institutional level both fulfills a duty to the community and cultivates goodwill among Morgan & Morgan supporters, employees, and the community.



Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice | |
Phone: (212) 382-6680. Address: 42 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036