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ACOEL International Pro Bono Committee

The mission of the International Pro Bono Committee is to (a) identify deserving non-US environmental groups underserved by the existing international environmental legal community, (b) develop relationships with the most appropriate representatives of those groups and (c) act as a clearing house by which Fellows of the College can individually provide pro bono services to those clients on specific projects identified as worthy of their efforts by the Committee.

Committee Members
Africa Initiative (Leader V. Robbins)

In 2016, ACOEL executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Wildlife Foundation to undertake wildlife and resource conservation work in Eastern, Central and Southern sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018, we were active in assisting the East African Wildlife Prosecutors’ Coalition in drafting a constitution and bylaws that would enable it to improve the effectiveness of its anti-poaching efforts in Eastern and Southern Africa. In May 2019 calls, AWF reported that it has a new Chief Executive Officer who is changing the direction of the Foundation. Nonetheless, AWF affirmed again that ACOEL is an important resource and partner. We reaffirmed in turn that ACOEL continues its readiness to work with AWF in important anti-poaching and other resource preservation projects – and that the ACOEL Foundation stands ready as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization in the USA to join AWF in applying for appropriate grants. Our current mission is to advise AWF on techniques used by U.S. agencies to detect and combat/avoid wildlife cybercrime. The project involves training East African wildlife prosecutors about the American experience in tackling cybercrime and best practices to be adopted. We will advise the full College of future pro bono opportunities for individual Fellows as they occur.

Cuba Initiatives (Leader D. Farer)

ACOEL faculty with Yociel Marrero at FANJ (Feb 9, 2023)

March 2, 2023: Report to ACOEL President and ACOEL Foundation on ACOEL-FANJ Joint Symposium February 9 & 10, 2023, Havana Cuba
— David B. Farer, co-chair, ACOEL Inter’l Pro Bono Committee; chair, Cuba Working Group

On February 9 & 10, 2023, seven ACOEL Fellows participated in a symposium, in Havana, Cuba, jointly presented by ACOEL and the Foundation Antonio Nunez Jimenez of Nature and Humanity (FANJ), the Cuban NGO with which ACOEL entered an MOU in February 2019. The topic and title was: USA-Cuba Key Environmental Issues: Lessons Learned – Lessons Shared.

Background: This was the fourth delegation of ACOEL Fellows to Cuba since efforts commenced in 2016, under the auspices of the College’s International Pro Bono Committee and its Cuba Working Group, to seek opportunities for College Fellows to engage in pro bono projects in aid of the Cuban people. As the MOU recites, the goals of ACOEL and FANJ are to explore the contributions that each organization’s Fellows and representatives can make to the other, including development of training on specific topics of environmental law, participation in events and advice on capacity building, and in sharing the knowledge and experience of the representatives and Fellows of the two organizations…. Read full report (PDF)


India Initiative (Leader T. Hester)

ACOEL has been in discussions with retired Justice Swatanter Kumar, formerly of the India Supreme Court and the India Green Court. Justice Kumar spearheaded negotiations between the ACOEL and (a) the Indian Law Institute and (b) the India National Law University in Delhi to provide for ACOEL Fellow participation in appropriate pro bono law projects in the subcontinent. Justice Kumar recently advised that both the Indian Law Institute and the National Law University of Delhi have orally agreed to entered into Memoranda of Understanding for future pro bono work. We have relayed draft MOUs to Justice Kumar, the Institute and the University for review. We hope to approve and sign final documents later this Summer. This effort may require a trip to India for signing as well as for in-person discussions of potential pro bono projects. We will circulate further information about any potential trip to India in order to invite interested Fellows to participate. The possibility of funding for travel and/or other expenses remains under discussion.

Waterkeeper Initiatives (Leader J. Bruen)

Waterkeeper Alliance is the umbrella organization for some 300 waterkeepers in the United States and abroad. The International Pro Bono Committee is the interface between Waterkeeper Alliance and international Waterkeeper projects around the globe. For 2021, those projects (to date) include opportunities to become strategic advisors to local Waterkeepers who oppose dam projects on the Mekong River in Laos and the Karnali River in Nepal. Those projects also include opportunities to teach at international training summits in Latin America (by Zoom), China (by Zoom or in person), Sweden (by Zoom or in person) and Canada (by Zoom or in person).