In 2016, the Barry Metzger Rule of Law Initiative, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in the Balkans and the Hogan Lovells law firm partnered to develop a training project for licensed advocates and civil society organization representatives to increase the capacity of advocates to represent clients in cases involving gender-based violence and discrimination, in four countries of the Balkans region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Macedonia, and Serbia. The U.S. State Department has identified violence against women as a major human rights problem in each of the four countries.

The project successfully trained over 60 licensed advocates and civil society representatives, divided among the four countries. The project consisted of the following four stages:

  1. The development of a working group within each of the four national bars and civil society organizations that focus on gender issues competent to represent victims in gender-based violence;
  2. Creation of a training program for advocates and CSO representatives that will enhance the capacity of advocates to represent the victims of gender-based violence;
  3. Collaboration among the Hogan Lovells law firm and the regional advocates and CSO representatives to support litigation and legislative reform to address gender-based violence; and
  4. Hogan Lovells provided guidance to the licensed advocates and CSO representatives in the region to support litigation and to identify gaps in local legislation and areas of legislative reform that are needed to address gender-based violence

The Metzger Rule of Law Initiative brought the Partnership for Transparency Fund’s experience working successfully with civil society organizations to the gender-based training project. Experts from local civil society with gender-based experience were recruited to participate in the project. The Hogan Lovells firm made a generous commitment to provide pro bono support to develop the training, travel to the region and participate in conducting the two-day training sessions. The lawyers presented lectures on the firm’s experience providing pro bono representation of victims of gender-based violence, lectures on international tools available to enable victims to get relief, after exhausting their domestic remedies, such as the provisions of the Istanbul Convention, and participation in roundtable discussions on problems that arise in attempting to help victims of gender-based violence and gender-based discrimination. Hogan Lovells also agreed to participate in appropriate follow-on activities to support efforts for legislative change and advocate for other reform initiatives in the region.