Projects 2019

Baker McKenzie and Members of the Consortium for Street Children

(Current members include: 3M, Abbvie, Amazon, Astellas, Cargill, CNH Google, HP Inc., JPMC, Merck, Mondelez, Salesforce, and Starbucks; and new members: BNP, Citi, LinkedIn, and Standard Chartered)

Baker McKenzie and members of the Consortium for Street Children (CSC) have developed a Legal Atlas, an interactive online tool that gives governments, advocates, community members, stakeholders, and young people themselves access to a basic and clear understanding of how various nations’ laws treat street-connected children and youth. CSC teams, made up of over 650 lawyers, researched and mapped existing substantive laws, policies, and procedures in almost every country in the world to help advocacy organizations press for laws in jurisdictions lacking adequate protections. This also allowed countries to learn from each other, measure their efforts, and devise ways to meet expectations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child through the newly developed General Comment on Street-Connected Children. So far, this effort is the culmination of thousands of hours of pro bono legal work and will continue into the future as Baker McKenzie and members of the CSC aim to map the laws and policies of all remaining countries. This legal research, published online on the Legal Atlas, allows experts and ordinary citizens to both access the information and compare protections for children between countries.Through this project, the Legal Atlas is changing attitudes toward and treatment of street children across the world.


De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek and The Ocean Cleanup

De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek represented The Ocean Cleanup, an environmental NGO that develops advanced technologies to extract plastic pollution from the world’s oceans, in concluding a landmark agreement with The Netherlands on the legal status, operation, and protection of its technology on the high seas. Due to their novel nature, the systems that The Ocean Cleanup deploys and operates in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the high seas have no clearly defined status under existing international regulations. Although the systems formally qualify as ships under Dutch law, the status of unmanned vessels has to date not been explicitly addressed in international law. The Ocean Cleanup’s systems are largely equated to that of other seagoing vessels and this agreement offers clarity as to the rights and obligations of The Ocean Cleanup towards States and other users of the high seas when operating its systems. The agreement, published on 6 July 2018, deals with matters such as safety of navigation, protection of the marine environment, and the rights of other users of the high seas with respect to The Ocean Cleanup’s systems. The Agreement also confirms that The Netherlands will actively support and facilitate The Ocean Cleanup’s activities, and (where necessary) represent The Ocean Cleanup’s interests in relation to other states and in relevant international forums, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO). A team from De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek assisted The Ocean Cleanup in legal research, negotiations, drafting of the agreement and coordination between the various parties involved, namely the Dutch State (the Secretary of State in particular, her office, and other civil servants employees from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management), The Ocean Cleanup’s legal and technical staff, authorities in the United States (in particular the United States Coast Guard), various law firms with specific U.S. regulatory and shipping expertise (Latham & Watkins US, AKD Rotterdam), and academic experts from the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (Utrecht University).


DLA Piper and Undikumbukire Project Zambia

In October 2018, working with the Zambia Judiciary and Corrections Department, DLA Piper and their pro bono client, Undikumbukire Project (UP) Zambia, conducted a week-long child justice drive in Copperbelt Province, Zambia, where they interviewed, documented the experiences of, and advocated for 115 child defendants held in six adult prisons. In Zambia, as in many countries, criminal justice systems often violate child justice norms. Children are frequently detained in adult facilities for extended periods, without access to education or age-appropriate activities, and they are invariably unrepresented. UP Zambia, a dedicated and innovative Zambian NGO, works zealously to change these issues within the criminal justice system; however, with limited funds and personnel, it cannot easily serve regions outside the capital, Lusaka. UP Zambia was aware that many children in conflict with the law were being held in adult prisons in Copperbelt Province and sought DLA Piper’s help to reach them and establish a presence in the area. DLA Piper provided pro bono services, logistical support, and funding to conduct the drive. Seventeen DLA Piper lawyers from 12 countries joined UP Zambia staff to visit the six prisons holding children. The team documented cases, prepared case plans, searched neighborhoods for parents, located missing files, represented children in court, and advocated to judges and administrators. Immediately following the drive, over 34 children were transported to child-specific facilities, 17 were released, one was acquitted, and one 14-year-old boy sentenced to hard labor was granted bail pending his appeal, which a DLA Piper lawyer will handle. DLA Piper and UP Zambia are continuing to advocate for the remaining child inmates. To date, these efforts have contributed to the release of at least six more children who had been in custody for periods ranging from over one year to four-and-a-half years. The team used the findings of the survey to write a report on systemic failures to the Chief Justice. At the resulting direction of the Chief Justice, a High Court judge in Copperbelt has taken charge of reforms in processing child cases and is working with UP Zambia to monitor ongoing cases. DLA Piper’s effort also resulted in systemic changes at the national level, where the Chief Justice appointed a new judicial leader for child justice, who will work with UP Zambia to implement improvements.


White & Case and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

To support states in strengthening their disaster risk management (DRM) legal frameworks, the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies commissioned White & Case to support its work on creating and building a robust Global Disaster Risk Management Law and Policy Index. The initial framework, completed at the end of 2018, highlighted gaps in existing laws, emphasized best practice, and incorporated the changing risks the world is facing. It is currently being applied by more than 200 White & Case lawyers and legal staff to national laws in more than 200 jurisdictions around the world, and will be launched by IFRC at the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in December 2019. For the IFRC, the Index is essential to ongoing legislative advocacy programs around the world, as well as a useful and easy-to-use tool for experts in the field, parliamentarians, and policy makers. The IFRC’s hope is to positively influence legal change in DRM instruments at a global level in a manner that is both strategic and effective. The breadth of detail and analysis available via the Index will be the cornerstone of this, driving change and best practice throughout the world and, in time, leading to improved climate-smart DRM that will ensure reduced impact of natural and man-made disasters on local populations and nation states.