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International Law

Practicing Human Rights Law in Latin America and Africa

April 2010

Vance Center

Above, from left to right: Sheila Keetharuth, Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, George Kegoro, and Lawrence Lee discuss opportunities for U.S. lawyers in the human rights systems of Africa and the Americas. Photos by Cristina Quintero

In March, the Vance Center for International Justice held two training programs in New York and Washington, D.C. for lawyers interested in human rights work abroad. The program, titled “Practicing in the African and Inter-American Regional Human Rights Systems: Training and Opportunities for U.S. Lawyers,” drew more than 100 lawyers, with panels of distinguished lawyers and human rights advocates from the U.S., Latin America, and Africa.

Presenters included James Cavallaro, Clinical Professor of law and executive Director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School; Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Deputy Director and Lecturer-in Law at the Human Rights Institute and Human Rights Clinic at Columbia University School of Law; Sheila Keetharuth, Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa; George Kegoro, Executive Director of the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists; Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law in Buenos Aires; Fernando Basch, Director of the Justice Program at of the Asociacion por los Derechos Civiles in Buenos Aires; Juan Pablo Olmedo, President of the Council for Transparency in Chile; Lawrence Lee, of Cohen & Gresser LLP; and Claudia Martin, Co-Director of the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and Professorial Lecturer in Residence at American University Washington College of Law.

The discussion covered the histories of the regional human rights systems of both Latin America and Africa and the challenges they currently face. Attendees also learned how U.S. lawyers can get involved in the human rights issues facing both systems, as well as about new media developments that provide further information about the systems. 

“Most attendees came knowing they wanted to do something to promote human rights abroad,” said Elizabeth Millard, the Vance Center’s Africa director and organizer of the training. “They left with concrete ideas on how they could turn their concern for human rights into action.”

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