IALL 2014 Annual Course Part I: Gender & Human Rights

By Charles Bjork

1450119_10100475958347527_6708231589772581974_nIALL’s 33rd annual course on international law and legal information in Buenos Aires got underway with three informative presentations focusing on Gender and Human Rights in Latin America.

The first speaker was Analia Montferrant, an attorney in the Office of Domestic Violence of the Supreme Court of Argentina. The Supreme Court established the Office, known by its Spanish acronym OVD, in 2004 to address the widespread under-reporting of domestic violence in Argentina. The role of the OVD is comparable to that of EEOC in American employment discrimination law.   After verifying an accusation of domestic violence, the OVD’s team of lawyers, psychologists, and social workers makes an initial determination as to whether legal intervention is warranted and then refers the case to the appropriate civil or criminal authorities for prosecution.

Since it became operational in 2008, the OVD has evaluated approximately 60,000 accusations of domestic violence involving more than 80,000 affected persons. Approximately two-thirds of the affected persons are women, one quarter are children, and the remainder are men, primarily elderly men abused by their adult children. The statistics compiled by the OVD help to guide the development of public policies to combat domestic violence. Among the key findings is fact that domestic violence is not confined to working class households but affect persons of all socio-economic backgrounds.

The next speaker was Paola Bergalla, a member of the law faculty at the Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires. Professor Bergalla began with brief overview of disputes concerning reproductive rights that have arisen in Latin America during the past 35 years, including assisted reproductive technology, emergency contraception, and abortion. She went on to discuss the impact of Artavia Murillo v. Costa Rica, a case in which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held that Costa Rica’s absolute ban on in-vitro fertilization (IVF) was in breach of the American Convention on Human Rights. In doing so, the Court applied a proportionality test to balance the rights of infertile couples who want to become parents against the right to life of embryos created via IVF. The Court ultimately concluded that an embryo does not attain the legal status of a person until it is implanted in the womb of the prospective mother. National courts in a several Latin American jurisdictions have begun to cite the decision in the Artavia Murillo case, particularly for its proportionality test and for its treatment of infertility as a disability. Prof. Bergalla concluded her presentation with a summary of the evolution of abortion law in Argentina.

The final speaker was Natalia Gherardi, an attorney with the Latin American Team for Gender Justice, known by its Spanish acronym ELA. She spoke about her organization’s efforts to help bridge the gap between laws on the books designed to promote gender equality and how those laws are applied in practice. In 2009, ELA established a judicial “observatory” to evaluate decisions issued by national courts in Latin America pertaining to the rights of women. The ELA posts each decision on its website in PDF format, along with a brief analysis of the outcome. In addition, the ELA grades each decision based on the extent to which the author(s) of the decision employ gender stereotypes. Decisions that rely on gender stereotypes receive one or more thumbs down, while decisions that eschew gender stereotypes receive one or more thumbs up. The twin goals of the ELA’s judicial observatory are to promote greater understanding of how courts in Latin America resolve disputes concerning the rights of women and to make these decisions more accessible to the public.

IALL Opening Session Recap

By Jim Hart

On Sunday afternoon the National Library of Argentina hosted the opening session of the IALL Conference in the Luis Vargas Auditorium. Jeroen Vervliet, the IALL President, presided over the program that featured Horacio Gonzales, the Library Director, Elisa Barber, the Associate Director, and Professor Lucas Grossman of the University of San Andreas Law Faculty. Dr. Gonzales gave an interesting description of the founding of the Library by Mariano Moreno. Next, Ms. Barber spoke of the importance of the work we do and her pleasure at hosting our conference.

Professor Grossman gave us a scholarly overview of the Argentine legal system, which is a combination of civil and common law systems. Although the Argentine Constitution is modeled on the American one, procedural law is promulgated by the states. The federal government consists of a strong president, a Congress with a House of Representatives and a Senate, and a judiciary with some independence.

This was followed by a tour of some of the Library’s most prized rare books and the Library’s reading rooms and a delightful reception.

The day was topped off by a tour of the lights of Buenos Aires and a good night’s sleep.

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Getting To Know You, Buenos Aires

By Jim Hart

Buenos Aires seems to contain all the other cities of the world. It has the barrios of east LA, the gardens of Osaka, the docks of London, the architecture of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, and the skyscrapers of New York, while the countryside around it reminds one of the steppes of central Asia. A tour of the city shows why it is called the Paris of the South. The Ricoleta district was features mansions and palaces of the 19th century French style. Nearby is the serene Japanese garden. The Avenue of the 9th of July is a 460 ft. wide, 12 lane boulevard where the obelisk that celebrates the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding stands.

But the culture of the tango and the beef of the Pampas are ubiquitous. The tango began in the barrios, was rejected by high society, charmed wealthy Parisians, and returned to the embrace of the creme de la creme of Agentine society. Now tourists are encouraged to try it in local clubs.

When you go out to eat, no one will force you to eat meat, but the fragrance will entrance you. Not all of it is beef, but it is all tender and juicy.

Whenever we walked to a cafe or sat down for coffee, we saw friends and colleagues.

Conference; what conference?   I hear it begins this afternoon.

Report from IFLA in Lyon

By Anne Burnett

Several AALL and FCIL-SIS members were among the nearly 4000 attendees at the 80th IFLA World Library Information Congress, held in Lyon, France, August 16-22, 2014, with a theme of “Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge.” This was my first time attending IFLA, and I had the honor of doing so as Representative from AALL to IFLA.

Sally Holterhoff and her poster on authentication and advocacy by law librarians in the United States.

Sally Holterhoff and her poster on authentication and advocacy by law librarians in the United States.

The biggest conference-wide news was the highly-anticipated launch of the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development, which outlines the need for access to information to be recognized in the United Nations post-2015 development framework and calls upon member states of the United Nations to acknowledge that access to information, and the skills to use it effectively, are required for sustainable development. IFLA is encouraging organizations and institutions to sign onto the Declaration, which is currently under review by AALL’s leadership.

Claire Germain presided as Chair over the two meetings of the Standing Committee for the IFLA Law Libraries Section. The Standing Committee and observers discussed issues relevant for the diverse group of law libraries represented and planned the Section’s activities for the coming year. A Working Group comprised of Sally Holterhoff and Marisol Floren provided the Section with an update on their Report on Access to Digital Legal Information, which assesses the official status, open access and authentication of legal gazettes. The report now covers all of Latin America and the Caribbean and work continues to assess gazettes worldwide.

Members of the Law Libraries Section collaborated with other sections to present two well-received programs at this year’s conference:

1) How Safe is the Law? Authentication of Official Gazettes: A Worldwide Report with an introduction by Sally Holterhoff and presentations about authentication of the EU e-Official Journal (Martine Reicherts, European Union Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights), the French Digital Official Journal (Didier François, Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information), and the Federal Register (Charley Barth, Office of the Federal Register, National Archives & Records Administration); and

2) Access to Law at the Digital Cross Roads: Innovative Solutions to Complex Challenges, with multiple speakers presenting on topics ranging from building a digital repository for Myanmar’s Parliament to collaborative digitization of French heritage legal collections to designing a service-oriented architecture for automatic mark-up of documents in the Chilean Congress.

Materials for these programs are accessible in the WLIC program.

Sally Holterhoff also shared information about AALL’s advocacy efforts with a poster titled “Keeping the Law Safe: Librarians Advocating for Digital Authentication in the United States.” Visitors to

the poster were interested not only in the specific issue of authentication but also in the role American law librarians play in advocacy efforts and the support they receive from AALL.

The Law Libraries Section enjoyed a presentation and reception at the Bibliothèque Municpale de Lyon, where we learned about the fascinating (and somewhat grisly) special collection of materials belonging to early 20th century French criminologist, physician and forensics expert, Alexandre Lacassagne.

Many law librarians and parliamentary librarians from diverse jurisdictions expressed interest in the FCIL Schaffer Grant and in the FCIL-SIS Clearinghouse for Internships and International Personnel Exchanges. These colleagues were pleased to have the information and flyers provided by the FCIL-SIS for these programs.

The IFLA World Library Information Congress will meet in Cape Town, South Africa in August, 2015, and the Law Libraries Section will once again be an active presence. Keep 2016 in mind as well: the Congress will meet much closer to home in Columbus, Ohio.

From the program on authentication of legal gazettes worldwide, left to right: Charley Barth, Office of the Federal Register; Didier François, French Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information; Martine Reicherts, European Union Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights; and Sally Holterhoff, Valparaiso University Law School and former President of the American Association of Law Libraries.

From the program on authentication of legal gazettes worldwide, left to right: Charley Barth, Office of the Federal Register; Didier François, French Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information; Martine Reicherts, European Union Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights; and Sally Holterhoff, Valparaiso University Law School and former President of the American Association of Law Libraries.