Process for Selecting an IACHR Executive Secretary

On April 22, 2016, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its selection of five finalists for the post of Executive Secretary. On April 27, the IACHR published the résumés and cover letters of the finalists on its Webpage, in order to receive observations. Comments must be sent to the e-mail Lromero@oas.org with the following words in the subject line: “Comments competition ES.” The IACHR will take into account all comments received until midnight on May 30, 2016.

The Commission will interview the five finalists on its next Ordinary Period of Sessions, scheduled to be held at the IACHR headquarters July 18-29. Based on the comments received on the five candidacies and on the interviews, the IACHR will identify the best qualified candidate, by consensus or by an absolute majority of its members. In accordance to the Rules of Procedure, once the IACHR identifies the best qualified candidate for the post, it will forward his or her name to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), proposing his or her appointment.


On January 15, 2016, the current Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria, made public an open letter announcing his decision not to run for reelection. His mandate ends on August 15, 2016. In accordance to the procedure established in Article 11 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure, on February 9, 2016, the announcement of a competition was published, in order to select a new Executive Secretary for the term from August 2016 to August 2020, term that can be renewed once for another four years. More than 90 candidacies were received, from which five finalists were selected applying the criteria established in Article 11 of the Rules of Procedure. This article establishes that the Executive Secretary shall be a person of independence and high moral standing, with experience and recognized expertise in the field of human rights.

In exercise of its autonomy and independence, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) made its choice on July 19, 2012, of Emilio Álvarez Icaza for the post of Executive Secretary, and, in the terms of Article 11 of its Rules of Procedure, sent the name of the selected person to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), with a proposal that the person be appointed for a four-year period.

The selection of Emilio Álvarez Icaza was the result of a comprehensive, open, transparent and participatory process. On July 19, 2012, the plenary of the Commission interviewed the five finalists in the headquarters. The selected finalists for the post can be found below, in alphabetical order:

With the publication of the names of the finalists on June 1, 2012, a one-month period began for receiving comments. The IACHR received 116 observations on the candidacies, which were considered by the Commissioners.


On March 31, 2011, the Inter-American Commission adopted Resolution 1/2011, which put forth a draft reform of Article 11 of its Rules of Procedure, with the aim of defining the process for selecting the Executive Secretary. The initiative sought to strengthen the transparency and regularity of the process. Toward that end, the IACHR published the text of the draft reform, and opened up a period until June 1, 2011, to receive comments and observations from the OAS Member States and from civil society.

Resolution 1/2011 mentions the announced resignation of Santiago A. Canton, the IACHR Executive Secretary, and includes special recognition of his dedication and contributions. His resignation will take effect on July 1, 2012.

During its 143rd session, which took place in October 2011, the Inter-American Commission analyzed the comments it had received and, following an internal debate, approved the text of Article 11 now in effect. Based on that provision and on the OAS Staff Rules, on November 16, 2011, the IACHR published the corresponding vacancy announcement that opened up the period for receiving applications for the post of IACHR Executive Secretary until May 1, 2012.

The IACHR received 111 candidacies. The names of the finalists were published on the Website of the IACHR on June 1, 2012, which marks the beginning of a one-month period for receiving comments.