While the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice recently marked its 10th anniversary, its Environmental Sustainability Program is just one year old. However, in this short time, the program has begun more than a dozen cross-jurisdictional pro bono projects on behalf of 10 international, regional, and national environmental NGOs.
The Vance Center is a nonprofit public interest law firm advancing just governance by engaging lawyers across borders to strengthen civil society in countries undergoing legal and institutional reform. The Environmental Sustainability Program is one of four thematic programs, which together involve more than 120 lawyers in more than 40 law firms in 30 countries in pro bono legal support of dozens of human rights and environmental NGOs.
One example of its environmental sustainability work is its partnership on coral reef preservation. Lawyers from 15 countries, including the U.S., are helping the Vance Center provide a regional Latin American environmental organization with legal advice and strategies for protecting coral reefs around the world. Currently, a U.S. law firm is reviewing reports by lawyers in reef-rich countries, such as Bermuda, Australia, Majorca, and the Cayman Islands, and integrating them with its own analysis of U.S. laws, offering protection to reef structures in their jurisdictions. This work will culminate in a “Guide to Legislative Approaches for Reef Conservation” containing model legislative and regulatory tools for reef protection and conservation from all over the world. As with all of the Vance Center’s projects, the law firms involved are providing their services entirely on a pro bono basis.
Once completed later this year, the Guide will be a critical tool in a larger strategy to advocate for better legal protections throughout Latin America. Lawyers from a variety of Latin American nations will analyze the gaps that in the existing regulatory regimes in their jurisdictions, in order to help the Vance Center and the NGO develop and implement targeted advocacy strategies to protect threatened reef ecosystems country by country and throughout the Latin American region.
Overbrook is incredibly proud to partner with the Vance Center, and looks forward to future collaboration.