International Development Law Organization

Alumni Voices – Spotlight on Latin America

Monday, August 17, 2020

Sara Sotelo from Peru, Alejandro Barrientos and Claudio Iglesias Darriba, from Argentina, and Carolina Olarte Bacares from Colombia all have one thing in common – they are all IDLO Alumni. Sara, Alejandro and Claudio first met at IDLO ten years ago when they attended a two-week training on Intellectual Property Law. They remain in touch today. Earlier this year they spoke to IDLO about their recollections of the time they spent together in Rome and how it continues to influence their careers.

In February 2020, during a family visit to Italy, Sara Sotelo – a Peruvian lawyer specializing in compliance and anti-corruption - took time out to visit IDLO and catch up with some of the staff she had met years earlier while attending training courses at the Rome headquarters.

During her visit to headquarters Sara also spoke to us on camera about her recollections of the time spent at IDLO, in 1998, when she attended the 12-week Development Lawyers Course, and how the different training sessions had helped her in her later work.

“What I remember most from this course is the module on negotiation skills (…) and the video activities on the practical aspects of negotiation that allowed me to negotiate and to understand my own negotiation style,” she said. “When I arrived at IDLO, it was spectacular for me to get to know an institution that was focused on law as a development tool,” she added.

Sara also spoke warmly about some of the lasting friendships she made with her counterparts from around the world, both in 1998 and when she returned to IDLO in 2010 for a two-week training on intellectual property (IP) law, and how she and her fellow participants continue to learn from each other.

“I exchange information with them and feedback related to regulations that are adopted in our countries,” she remarked.

With Sara’s assistance, we were able to get back in touch with another of the participants of the 2010 IP training - Alejandro Barrientos, an Argentinian lawyer who runs his own law firm specializing in IP.

At the time, Alejandro, like many others, was under lockdown in Buenos Aires as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he went to great lengths to send us a short video recounting his experiences at IDLO.

“I remember well the workshop on drafting license contract clauses and how it helped explain a useful way forward for developing countries,” he recalled.

“It was also interesting to learn about the experiences shared by some of the professionals from African countries where they would add value to products to later export them on international markets,” he added.

Despite the COVID-19 crisis and related restrictions, Alejandro also had a message of hope for his colleagues: “I am optimistic because I see many inventions that are flourishing in developing countries, as well as the intellectual property generated around those inventions,” he concluded.

Fellow Argentinian, Claudio Iglesias Darriba, was also among the participants of the 2010 course on IP, although it was not his first experience at IDLO. Some 15 years earlier Claudio had come to Rome as a participant of IDLO’s five-week “Enterprise and Investment Lawyers Course”, which he described as “an extraordinary experience”, where he met fellow lawyers from Eastern Europe with whom he still stays in contact.

In addition to his expertise in IP law, Claudio specializes in environmental law and sustainable development and teaches at both the University of Buenos Aires and the National University of Jose’ C. Paz. Claudio also managed to overcome the challenges of lockdown restrictions to send us a short video from his home in Buenos Aires.

Having witnessed the benefits of staying in contact with his former colleagues from IDLO, Claudio was also keen to encourage other Alumni and interested legal professionals to stay in touch: “It is great to have more Alumni from Latin America joining the IDLO family” he concluded.

Carolina Olarte Bacares lectures in international law at the Javeriana University in Bogota’, Colombia. She was recently also appointed as Dean of the Law Faculty.

A native of Colombia, who is also fluent in English, French and Italian, and holds a PhD in international law from the Sorbonne University in Paris, Carolina came to IDLO in 2006 to attend the French language edition of the Development Lawyers Course.

In the video she shared with us from her home in Bogota’, Carolina spoke enthusiastically about many of the different modules from her training, including negotiation, mediation and arbitration as well as project development for international cooperation.

She described the hands-on style of IDLO’s training. “The IDLO methodology always combined practical elements from the field and I found it especially interesting to exchange ideas and experiences with other lawyers from different countries of the Global South,” she commented.

She also highlighted how useful it was during the training to have the opportunity to interact with a wide range of experts from different organizations, including the OECD, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations, among others. “It helped lay the groundwork for a number of projects I am currently working on for the UN in the area of treaty advocacy,” she added.

Carolina also spoke warmly about being fortunate to study against the beautiful backdrop of Rome, a city where “you are literally walking on history”, and which undoubtedly helped create “lasting memories of what was an enjoyable, productive and very special time”, not to mention the city where she first met her Italian husband Giovanni.

Sara, Alejandro, Claudio and Carolina are among the hundreds of Alumni from Latin American who have benefited from IDLO training over the years. In Argentina there are currently around 150 Alumni, more than 170 in Peru and at least 300 in Colombia.

Ecuador, Honduras and Peru are among IDLO’s Member Parties in Latin America. IDLO programs are currently being implemented in Mexico and Honduras.