Pro Bono News

The Lawyers' Earthquake Response Network mobilizes support for human rights and justice in Haiti

Friday, January 29, 2010

  • Brian Concannon
  • Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

The Lawyers’ Earthquake Response Network (LERN) is a national network of lawyers in the U.S. working with Haitian lawyers to implement a legal response to the earthquake in Haiti. LERN employs a human rights-based approach to advocate for the victims of the earthquake and reduce Haiti’s vulnerability to future natural, political and economic stresses. LERN projects include fighting for safe housing, for long-term, effective international assistance to Haiti, and for immigration opportunities for Haitians in the U.S. LERN will also develop replicable models for international legal responses to large-scale natural disasters.

LERN is led by the U.S.-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and the Haiti-based public interest law firm, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux
The BAI has fought for human rights in Haitian courts since 1994. BAI’s Managing Attorney, Mario Joseph, is Haiti’s most prominent human rights lawyer.

BAI’s achievements include:

  • successfully prosecuting the Raboteau Massacre case, which led to the convictions of the top military and paramilitary leadership of Haiti’s 1991-94 military dictatorship;
  • winning $430,000 in court-awarded damages for the Raboteau massacre victims; and
  • securing acquittals or dismissals for over 50 political prisoners.

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
IJDH supports BAI and brings the fight for justice in Haiti to powerful countries. IJDH’s Director, Brian Concannon Jr., Esq., lived in Haiti for eight years and is a leading international expert on human rights in Haiti.
IJDH’s achievements include:

  • winning Yvon Neptune v. Haiti, the only Haiti case ever decided by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights;
  • providing the single best source of information on human rights in Haiti through its website,; and
  • collaborating with dozens of law school clinics and law firms in the U.S. to advance justice for Haitians in U.S. and international courts.

Join the Network

LERN was launched on January 17, 2010. Within the first week, over 175 lawyers, law professors and law students joined the network.

LERN will provide overall coordination of projects through a listserve and an interactive webpage. Individual projects will be coordinated through project leaders, who will be leading experts in the relevant field.

To join LERN, please visit For more information about the network or our other work, please contact IJDH’s Director, Brian Concannon at or see our website,