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The Vance Center provides pro bono legal advice and support to non-governmental organizations active worldwide.; and we collaborate with laqyers internationally to strengthen pro bono practice and ethics and diversity in the legal profession. Our advice takes several forms, as shown by examples of specific cases in 2015:

Identification of "best practices" across a range of countries in an area of law or policy

  • How 7 countries worldwide have protected coral reefs against pollution, overfishing and other threats and how 12 countries in Latin America can improve their protections accordingly
  • How 5 Latin American countries have legislated to protect LGBTI people from violence and discrimination

Analysis of compliance with international treaties by countries that signed them

  • How 105 nations worldwide have implemented their obligations under various treaties and conventions to prevent and punish war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity
  • How environmental review processes in 6 Latin American Countries reflect obligations under international treaties relating to the environment and to human rights

Amicus curiae representation before national, regional, and international tribunals

  • At the U.S. Supreme Court, marriage equality in the United States, based on examples in Argentina, Canada, Holland, and South Africa
  • At the Inter- American Court of Human Rights, expropriation of a privately- owned media company in violation of due process and free speech

Training on enforcing human rights 

  • How pro bono lawyers in El Salvador can protect LGBTI persons from hate crimes and discrimination  

Establishing institutions and legal mechanisms

  • Developing innovative public- private mechanisms to ensure long term security of fresh water in various Latin American Countries
  • Creating an international organization for governmental and financial institutions worldwide to combine their resources to address the health effects of toxic pollution

Proposals for legislative reform

  • Creating a new category of water use concessions in Mexican law to facilitate conservation of fragile ecosystems
  • Revising the proposed mining law in Haiti to meet international best practices and Haiti's international obligations on respecting human rights and protecting the environment
  • Devising a legal definition of grand corruption for promulgation through international tribunals and national legislatures


The Vance Center also provides legal support to international human rights bodies, including:

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  • The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of people to self-determination
  • The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • The UN International Law Commission Special Rapporteur for the Protection of the Environment in relation to armed conflict
  • The UN Joint Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsability to Protect