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Welcome to the Vance Center eNotes, where you can read about our organization's latest news and developments.

Dec 2013

Vance Center Considers Transitional Justice in Brazil


From left to right: City Bar Executive Director Bret I. Parker, Vance Center Program Director Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste,Vance Center Committee Member Todd Crider, Ambassador Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota and Vance Center Executive Director Alexander Papachristou

The Vance Center, together with the Instituto de Estudos da Religião (ISER), hosted a conference on “Transitional Justice in Brazil: Measuring Progress and Confronting Challenges” on December 2, 2013 at the New York City Bar. The conference brought together Brazilian government officials and civil society representatives, as well as international transitional justice experts, to reflect on Brazil’s current transitional justice process and consider how Brazil can continue to move forward in addressing past human rights violations and create a more just future. Todd Crider, Vance Center Committee Vice Chair, welcomed the participants, and Ambassador Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations, delivered the keynote address emphasizing the Brazilian government's commitment to an inclusive and effective transitional justice process.

The first panel looked at the Political and Historical Panorama of Transitional Justice in Brazil and featured Professor James Green of Brown University; Marcelo Torelly of Harvard Law School and former Director of Historical Memory of the Brazilian Amnesty Commission; and Glenda Mezarobba of the Brazilian National Truth Commission. Marcia Maack, Vance Center Committee member, moderated the panel. Professor Green began with a historical overview of the repressive military regime in Brazil, the transition to democracy, and the first steps in the transitional justice process. Marcelo Torelly spoke about the social struggle around the concept of amnesty in Brazil, which now has come to include not only reparations but also truth and justice, and the work and mandate of the Amnesty Commission, including the increasingly important role it has played in providing reparations (economic, moral and psychological) to victims and reaching an even larger number of victims. Glenda Mezarobba of the Brazilian National Truth Commission described the work and mandate of the Truth Commission explaining that, as other Truth Commissions, it lacks prosecutorial power but that it must forward cases of violations to the justice system and may decide to publish the names of violators. Mrs. Mezarobba further explained that the Truth Commission is paying particular attention to understanding the structure of the repressive regime since parts of this structure are still in place in Brazil today. She gave the examples of how companies and the army continue to blacklist certain individuals, how torture is still prevalent in police stations throughout Brazil, and the difficulty the military has in acknowledging its role in human rights violations committed during the dictatorship.

The second panel on Transitional Justice: What Role for Civil Society?, moderated by the Vance Center’s Program Director Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste, included Jo-Marie Burt of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and professor and director of Latin American Studies at George Mason University; Beatriz Affonso of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL); and Fernanda Pradal of conference cosponsor ISER. Professor Burt started the panel with with a comparative overview of transitional justice process in Latin America highlighting the central role played by civil society actors, especially victims' groups and human rights NGOs, in seeking ways to overcome de facto and de jure impunity for crimes of the past. She noted that while many countries such as El Salvador and Brazil still have a long way to go, recent developments are promising. Ms. Affonso followed with a presentation on the challenges civil society organizations, particularly victims groups, face in pushing forward the transitional justice agenda in Brazil and how, despite those challenges, they have been a catalyst for progress in transitional justice in Brazil. Ms. Affonso spoke about the importance of the Gomes Lund et al. (“Guerrilha do Araguaia") v. Brazil case and how, along with pressure from victims groups, it led to the creation of the National Truth Commission and deplored that despite the important role they have played, the government continues to exclude victims groups from participating in the creation of public policies on transitional justice. Fernanda Pradal presented research conducted by ISER on civil society’s perception of the Truth Commission, which revealed that, while civil society welcomes the creation of the Truth Commission, it is concerned with the lack of transparency and inclusiveness.

Eduardo Gonzalez, Director of the Truth and Memory Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice delivered the closing remarks, stressing the importance of achieving a productive dialogue between the National Truth Commission, civil society observers, and victims’ groups despite the difficulty of forming cooperative relationships after such a long period of institutionalized silence.

For more information on the conference including the panelists’ presentations click here.


Pro Bono in New York: The International Experience of Bruchou, Fernández, Madero & Lombardi Coordinators


The Vance Center collaborates with many wonderful pro bono clearinghouses in promoting pro bono practice by private law firms and in-house counsel and in staffing teams of lawyers from these organizations to take on pro bono projects. A dozen such partner clearinghouses and the Vance Center are members of the International Pro Bono Network with its on-line home at The Vance Center, Fundacion Pro Bono Chile, and other Network members are undertaking an initiative to institutionalize the Network.


The Pro Bono Committee of the Bar Association of the City of Buenos Aires (Argentina) is an active Network member and a frequent collaborator with the Vance Center on pro bono projects involving Argentine law. The Buenos Aires Committee recently sent an interview of two pro bono lawyers from a major Argentine law firm, which recounts their experience with pro bono practice in New York law firms, represented on the Vance Center Committee.. The interview illustrates the value of pro bono work for individual lawyers, their law firms, and their countries' legal professions.


Latin Lawyer Features Vance Center Committee Members and WIP Participants


A recent report published in Latin Lawyer features a list of 15 “International Role Models,” prominent women partners at leading UK and US law firms who work in Latin American practice groups. Four role models are Vance Center Committee members and active participants in the Vance Center’s Women in the Profession Program: Carmen Corrales of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Taisa Markus of Paul Hastings; Sabrena Silver of Linklaters; and Antonia Stolper of Shearman & Sterling.

The report also includes a list of 50 “Inspiring Women” who are members of the Latin American profession. Several of the women listed are also active in the WIP Program: Patricia López Aufranc of Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal and Carolina Zang of Zang, Bergel & Viñes Abogados in Argentina; Raquel Novais of Machado, Meyer, Sendacz e Opice Advogados and Ester Nunes of Pinheiro Neto Advogados in Brazil; Patricia Núñez of Núñez, Muñoz, Verdugo & Cía Ltda, Abogados in Chile; Claudia Barrro of prietocarrizosa and Paula Samper of Gómez-Pinzón Abogados in Colombia; María Teresa Quiñones of Rodrigo, Elías & Medrano Abogados and María Eugenia Yabar of Estudio Olaechea in Peru; Marcela Hughes of Hughes & Hughes Abogados and Verónica Raffo of Ferrere in Uruguay; and Elisabeth Eljuri of Norton Rose Fulbright in Venezuela.


Support the Vance Center on Social Media

The Vance Center now has its very own page on the Giving Library. Please visit the site here to see the Vance Center's Executive Director, Alexander Papachristou, discussing our mission and work.

The Giving Library is an innovative online resource, created by the Arnold Foundation, that provides information on hundreds of non-profit organizations via interview videos. The Vance Center was fortunate to be  invited to participate earlier this year.

In honor of their new website the Giving Library has kicked off their $100,000 "Share to Give" Campaign. This campaign awards the Vance Center $5 every time someone shares our Giving Library video on Facebook or Twitter, without that someone having to give any money. The rules are as follows:

1. Visit the Vance Center's Giving Library page here.

2. Click the "Share Now" button located on the right side of the page.

3. Create an account with the site once prompted (you may sign in with your Facebook account).

4. Click "Share on Facebook" or "Share on Twitter."

5. Share either the default message or a message of your choice.

6. The Vance Center will receive $5 per share.

It's that simple.

Thank you for your support, and happy sharing.