The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice was formed in 2003 as an independent, non-profit entity under the auspices of the City Bar to enable lawyers and other members of the legal profession in the United States and abroad to engage in activities to strengthen democratic values, the rule of law and access to justice in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. In Latin America, the Vance Center has promoted and facilitated the provision of pro bono legal services, focused primarily on establishing and strengthening institutional structures for the provision and expansion of pro bono work. It has supported the creation and operation of 12 pro bono referral programs (clearinghouses) in the region, many of which have been Tinker Foundation grantees. The Center has also been centrally involved with the design, development and implementation of the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas (PBDA), which hundreds of law firms from throughout the Americas have signed since 2008.
This grant supports a new three-year initiative following the successful launch of the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas. The Center will create and strengthen pro bono referral programs in countries where they are still nonexistent or weak (in Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Ecuador). Working with two local partners the Center will develop a pro bono and social responsibility curriculum for Latin American law schools, to be implemented initially at the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez in Santiago, Chile. Lastly, the Center plans to establish working groups of the U.S. and Latin American pro bono organizations to address regional and international social justice issues.