Join all of us at Arizona Law in congratulating Evo DeConcini Professor of Law Emeritus Boris Kozolchyk on his recent Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
Boris was nominated by the University of Rio de la Plata and the Argentine Comparative Law Association for his work addressing issues of economic justice between countries as well as within each country, advancing societies through economic development.
I had the opportunity to write a letter of support to the Norwegian Nobel Committee noting that, having worked with Boris for 15 years, I have come to fully understand how his impactful work improves the human condition and the tends the landscape of peace as surely as if he were engaged in high-profile activism.
Boris is the founding president and former director of the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade (NatLaw), a nonprofit research and legal reform institution that he founded in 1992. Recently, NatLaw’s board voted to rename the center in Boris’s honor, and it now operates as the Kozolchyk National Law Center. Located in Tucson, NatLaw maintains a strong affiliation with the University of Arizona, involving Arizona Law students in the center's many projects.
NatLaw works with developing countries and communities to help small businesses through increased access to credit and acts to encourage investment by creating institutions that protect the rights of all parties. The center also provides law training for legislators, judges, law professors and students, practicing lawyers, and international businesses.
Boris's work has transformed lives, communities, and nations. As an example, he worked to establish a Model Inter-American Law of Secured Transactions (MIASTL). Before MIASTL, Honduran law required farmers to own their cropland in order to use it as loan collateral. The MIASTL, drafted mostly by NatLaw, changed the legal requirement from ownership to possession, allowing thousands of farmers to access credit for the first time in their lives.
Boris and NatLaw have introduced similar reforms like MIASTL within every sector of Latin American, African, and Asian economies.
In Costa Rica, under Boris’s leadership, a law allowing expensive fruit juicing equipment to be used as long-term loan collateral meant that juice sellers could secure loans for a much longer period. The change improved the lives of thousands of juice vendors. In multiple Latin American countries, the expansion of acceptable loan collateral led to much greater credit access for small and medium-sized businesses.
For many decades Boris’s work has helped provide ethical and fair business practices around the world, helped advance societies through economic development, and improve the lives of everyday people.
As I wrote in support of Boris's nomination, the link between financial infrastructure and robust civil societies may not be intuitive or obvious, yet it is actually quite direct. Legal infrastructure that promotes opportunity allows individuals to achieve higher living standards.
We honor Boris' many accomplishments, and his lifelong success in helping the people of a nation fully participate in that nation's growth.