IBA Presents Debevoise with a Group Member Award for Pro Bono Contribution

8 October 2018

The International Bar Association (“IBA”) has presented Debevoise & Plimpton with a Group Member Award for outstanding pro bono contributions to the IBA.

The award was one of three given at the Group Members’ Breakfast on the first day of the IBA’s 2018 Annual Conference in Rome. It comes on the back of Debevoise’s involvement in the International Bar Association’s eyeWitness project.

The eyeWitness project involves the development of an app which harnesses the power of technology to help bring to justice those enabling and encouraging unspeakable cruelty. It provides human rights defenders and organisations documenting human rights abuses with a mobile app to capture relevant video footage and photos embedded with metadata to verify where and when they were taken and whether they have been altered.

Both the images and the metadata are stored within the app until the footage is then sent to a secure server and reviewed by pro bono lawyers from Debevoise, Hogan Lovells and Linklaters who curate the information for potential use in international investigations and prosecutions. The project was developed and released while Debevoise partner David W. Rivkin was President of the IBA.

To date, 15 Debevoise lawyers have worked on the project since its inception in 2017. Their role involves reviewing photo and video evidence, curating the information into evidentiary dossiers, and completing research and situational analysis briefs.

The project was involved in a notable success in September. A military trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo saw two high-ranking commanders condemned for murder and torture constituting crimes against humanity. Central to the convictions was video footage submitted to the proceedings using the eyeWitness app. It is hoped that the convictions will prompt other lawyers to use audiovisual evidence in criminal proceedings. For full details of the case, including information about the other NGOs involved, click here.

Pro bono legal service has been deeply rooted in Debevoise’s culture since the firm was founded in 1931. Debevoise is a charter signatory to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge™, agreeing to commit at least 5% of annual billed time to pro bono matters, and is also a signatory to the UK’s Pro Bono Protocol. The firm has longstanding relationships with legal service organizations like The Legal Aid Society, Human Rights First, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest Inc. and LawWorks.

Debevoise & Plimpton is a premier law firm with market-leading practices, a global perspective and strong New York roots. We deliver effective solutions to our clients’ most important legal challenges, applying clear commercial judgment and a distinctively collaborative approach.