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February 2013
 Vance Center eNotes
Welcome to the Vance Center eNotes, where you can read about our organization's latest news and developments.
Vance Center Undertakes Collaborative Effort Targeting Contaminated Sites in Latin America

The Vance Center's Environmental Sustainability Program has launched a worldwide engagement with the Blacksmith Institute, an innovative and transformative environmental NGO, working in some of the world's worst polluted places, sharing resources and expertise with local governments and agencies to solve pollution problems, clean up polluted sites, and save lives. In Latin America, Blacksmith is helping national governments to identify toxic hotspots, so that they can be prioritized for further evaluation and intervention while the Vance Center is developing a guide with practical recommendations for a legal framework to identify, manage and remediate contaminated sites. For this purpose, the Environmental Sustainability Program is calling on lawyers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay, as well as the United States, to analyze how their nations' laws can guide development of this framework. Jeff Gracer, Vance Center Committee member and chair of the Program, is leading this project through his firm, Sive, Paget & Riesel. The Vance Center has enlisted other firms to advise Blacksmith with similar efforts in China, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.

The Environmental Sustainability Program has formed similar partnerships with other international environmental organizations focusing on climate change, coral reef protection, natural resource conservation, and sustainable development. The Program collaborates with these NGOs to develop and implement projects that identify systemic, cross-border challenges and to address them through multi-pronged strategies, including regulatory reform, collaborative advocacy, and private-public partnerships. The Vance Center enlists international law firms in New York City and throughout Latin America to support these projects on a pro bono basis. In addition to Jeff Gracer, the Program sub-committee includes Rubén Kraiem of Covington & Burling and Kenneth Rivlin of Allen & Overy. Two Vance Center staff members implement the Environmental Sustainability Program: Susan Kath, an environmental attorney with more than 20 years of experience, and Clea Bowdery, who has a background in environmental and international law.    

Latin American Judges Gather in NYC for Inter-American Conference on Judicial Innovation




The Vance Center and the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, based in Santiago, Chile, co-hosted a conference on judicial innovation on January 23-25, 2013 in New York City. More than 60 judges, judicial officials and courtroom practitioners from 12 Latin American countries attended.

The conference, "U.S.-Latin American Judicial Exchange Program: A Dialogue on Innovative Adjudication," provided a forum for exchange of experiences and best practices regarding innovations in judicial proceedings. Participants attended morning panel presentations by U.S. and Latin American judicial experts at the New York City Bar and then conducted site visits to federal, state and community courts, as well as New York City's Rikers Island detention center.

Conference topics included community and small claims courts, pretrial services, diversion and re-entry programs, and new technologies in court proceedings, including paperless filings and e-discovery. Carey Dunne, President of the New York City Bar Association, opened the conference, along with Cristián Riego, Executive Director of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas. Presenters included Judge Judith Kaye, Former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals;
Judge Frank Maas
, United States Magistrate Judge; Ms. Javiera Blanco, Executive Director of Fundación Paz Ciudadana; Mr. Glenn Martin, Vice President of Development and Public Affairs and Director of the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy, the Fortune Society, Inc., USA; Judge José Guilherme Vasi Werner, Judge of the Court of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Judge Fern Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts; Judge Ruben Martino, Judge in the Family Court of the City of New York; Ms. Ana Dulce Aguilar, Project Director at the Institute of Criminal Justice Procedure of Mexico; Mr. Arthur Penny, Chief Pretrial Services Officer at the Southern District of New York; and Justice Joseph Zayas, Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Queens County.  



On the first site visit to Rikers Island, participants toured the facilities and heard a presentation from New York City Commissioner of Correction Dora Schriro on the informed custody management and discharge planning strategies of the department. On the second day, participants visited the Red Hook Community Justice Center, guided by staff members of the Center for Court Innovation, and engaged in discussions with Judge Alex Calabrese and Captain Jeffrey Schiff, about community courts in the United States. Some participants then visited a Brooklyn small claims court, where they were able to view a hearing before a judge, and others visited a New York City small claims court, where they were able to view a hearing before an arbitrator. On the last day of the conference, participants visited the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, where they were greeted by Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska. As part of this visit, participants visited a "courtroom of the future," and viewed a mock pretrial services interview and bail hearing with Judge Frank Maas presiding. The conference ended with a closing reception at the US District Courthouse.
 
For more images of the conference, click here.

Protecting the Rights of People with Mental Disabilities in Africa 

 

The Vance Center and the New York City Bar Association's Committees on African Affairs, Mental Health Law and Legal Issues Affecting People with Disabilities sponsored a program on "Protecting the Rights of People with Mental Disabilities in Africa" on February 6, 2013.  The panelists discussed mistreatment that individuals with disabilities regularly experience in some African countries and noted that, while certain countries have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and have in place national laws protecting the rights of disabled persons, few countries have implemented or enforced the Convention or their national laws. The panelists offered ideas how compliance might improve.  

 

The panelists included Shuaib Chalklen, the U.N. Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on Disability; Med Ssengooba, Finberg fellow at Human Rights Watch; Lycette Nelson, Litigation Director at Mental Disability Advocacy Center; lawyer and psychiatrist Steven Datlof. Professor Arlene S. Kanter, Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Disability Law and Policy Program at Syracuse University, moderated the panel. Further information about the panel discussion is available on the committee website.

 

An Update from Hon. Hans Corell, Member of the Vance Center International Council  

 

Ambassador Hans Corell has been a member of the International Council since 2012.

"I have been active in preparing the following Guide: Rule of Law - A Guide for Politicians. A Guide elaborated under the auspices of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Lund University, Sweden, and the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL), the Netherlands

 

Presentation of the Guide to the 127th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on 24 October 2012 in the city of Québec, Canada: Text of the Audiovisual Presentation

 

The following two writings (both to be published in journals soon) might interest - in particular my concern at the inability of the Western democracies to really take the lead when it comes to establishing the Rule of law at the international and international levels:

 

Reflections on International Criminal Justice:   Past, Present and Future. Keynote Address at a Symposium on the International Criminal Court at Ten, held at Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and Washington University School of Law, St. Louis, MO, on 12 November 2012

Reflections on International Criminal Law over the Past 10 Years: Keynote Address at the Sixth Annual International Humanitarian Law Dialogues, held at Chautauqua, N.Y., on 26-28 August 2012

 

Furthermore:

 

"Security Council Reform and the Rule of Law" Text of letter dated 22 November 2012 to the Permanent Representatives of the members of the United Nations Security Council. In the letter there is a reference to the 12 November lecture.

 

I am still following the development in Kenya on a daily basis as Legal Adviser to the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, chaired by Kofi Annan. We are somewhat worried in view of the upcoming elections on 4 March. I am sure that you are aware of that Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are allowed to be running mates  in the presidential election in spite of the fact that they are indicted for crimes against humanity before the ICC.

 

I am now also active in the new Inquiry (with Richard Goldstone and others) into the death of Dag Hammarskjold, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. See the Press Release."


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Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice | vance@nycbar.org | http://www.vancecenter.org
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