The Inter-American Commission has a fellowship program, called the “Rómulo Gallegos” Fellowship, geared toward young professionals from the OAS Member States who have completed their university law studies and hold the degree of lawyer. Lawyers from the countries of the Americas are selected each year through a rigorous competition in which they must demonstrate their commitment to human rights as well as a solid academic background and a good command of at least two official languages of the OAS.
The program offers practical training in the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights, particularly with regard to the work of the Inter-American Commission. The fellowship program is coordinated so that the fellowship recipients, under the supervision of the various human rights specialists, can participate directly in the work the IACHR Executive Secretariat carries out in different areas. The goal is that the knowledge acquired by the fellowship recipients can later be applied in their countries of origin.
The program lasts for 12 months. Fellowships include a monthly stipend and cover the costs of airfares.
The Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship Program was created —in honor of the first Chairman of the IACHR, Rómulo Gallegos of Venezuela— during the Commission's 26th session, held in October and November 1971. In October 1973, the Commission chose Óscar María Garibaldi of Argentina as the first recipient of the Rómulo Gallegos. Fellowship. Since then, dozens of lawyers have gained professional experience with the IACHR through this professional development program. Some of them have continued to work at the Commission, while many other work to defend and promote human rights in their home countries and in other international organizations.
In addition, the IACHR and the University of Notre Dame have partnered since 1997 on a program that offers Notre Dame students who are graduating with an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law an opportunity to gain practical experience at the Commission.
During its 130th session, the Commission signed an agreement with the University of Québec in Montreal for the creation of the Brian Tittemore Scholarship, which will enable an alumnus of that university to do legal support work for the IACHR Executive Secretariat, with external funding. The scholarship was created in honor of Brian Tittemore, an outstanding Canadian attorney who worked as a principal specialist at the IACHR from February 1999 until his death in December 2006. The scholarship has been awarded each year since the agreement was signed, giving young Canadian attorneys from the University of Québec an opportunity to gain professional experience in the inter-American human rights system.
Fellowship recipients and interns take minutes during the 140th period of sessions, October-November 2010
When the necessary funds are available, the Inter-American Commission also welcomes fellowship recipients through other programs. Thus, enriching experiences have been available to attorneys from the Andean region, Central America, and the English-speaking Caribbean, as well as to French-speaking attorneys. The IACHR has also offered opportunities for fellowship recipients to work with a specific thematic rapporteurship.
Pictures Credit: Mario Lopez-Garelli.