Press Release

IACHR Concludes its 146th Session and Expresses Appreciation for the Confidence Shown by All Stakeholders in the Human Rights System

november 16, 2012

Washington, D.C. – As it concludes its 146th regular session, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its appreciation for the extensive and constructive participation of stakeholders throughout the inter-American human rights system in the dialogue underway on the process to strengthen the system. The Commission appreciates the proactive and positive participation of OAS Member States, victims of human rights violations, civil society organizations, the OAS General Secretariat, Observer States, the academic sector, and other organizations, institutions, and regional and international agencies.

The Commission especially acknowledges the presence of 25 Member States, the OAS Secretary General, and the Assistant Secretary General in the hearing held with the Member States on strengthening the human rights system, as well as the participation of 62 speakers at the hearing held with civil society representatives from around the Americas. This extensive participation in the October 31 hearings—despite the serious obstacles brought by Hurricane Sandy as it swept through the area—is a sign of confidence that the IACHR welcomes and appreciates.

The full Commission participated in a special meeting of the OAS Permanent Council held to discuss the Commission's response to the recommendations made by the Permanent Council's Special Working Group to Reflect on the Workings of the IACHR with a View to Strengthening the Inter-American System. In addition, the Commission received the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, and his chief of staff, Hugo de Zela, for the purpose of continuing and expanding their positive and productive dialogue on the strengthening process. It also met with representatives of OAS Observer States. In all cases, the IACHR received very positive feedback to its document responding to the Working Group's recommendations, and it took note of all the comments it received so as to continue moving forward in this process of reflection and reform. All the input it received—during the sessions and previously, through subregional forums, a consultation via the IACHR website, and other mechanisms—provide enormously valuable contributions to the Commission's process of reflection and analysis on the strengthening of the inter-American human rights system, the shared heritage of all people in the Americas.

The active participation of all stakeholders in the dialogue on strengthening the system and the willingness shown to work together have created an environment conducive to moving forward with reforms that make it possible to improve and perfect the existing mechanisms designed to protect and promote the human rights of everyone in the Americas. One sign of that, in the Commission's view, is a $500,000 increase for the IACHR in the 2013 annual budget of the OAS, approved by a special session of the OAS General Assembly, which took place November 15. Mindful of the financial situation facing the Organization, the Inter-American Commission especially values and appreciates this increase, which it interprets as an additional, very positive sign of the Member States' commitment to the inter-American human rights system and their willingness to strengthen its capabilities in order to advance respect for human rights and strengthen human rights guarantees in the Americas.

With a receptive spirit, the Commission carefully evaluated all the comments it received on how to move forward in meeting the shared goal of improving human rights protections for everyone in the region. During these sessions, the IACHR made progress in the discussion on the reform of its Rules of Procedure, analyzing the specific language of the articles to be reformed, as well as in the debate on reforms to its policies and practices. The next step in this process will be the publication of the draft regulatory reform, for consultation by all stakeholders in the human rights system. After receiving comments, the Commission will examine them and make a final decision on the reform of its Rules of Procedure and on the institution's policies and practices. Finally, the Commission will publish the reforms. In determining the schedule for this next stage in the reform process, the IACHR will consider as a reference point the work of the OAS Permanent Council. The Commission expects to conclude this process no later than January 2013.

The Commission notes that, in accordance with its commit to strengthen its efforts in the area of economic, social, and cultural rights, and in response to suggestions made by the States and by civil society, the Commission decided during these sessions to create a Unit on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which will be led by Commissioner Rose-Marie Antoine.

In addition, the Commission underscores the importance of the work being done by the Unit on the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bisexual, and Intersex (LGTBI) Persons, and to strengthen this work, it has decided to designate Commissioner Tracy Robinson to be in charge of the Unit. The IACHR continues to reflect on the possible creation of a Rapporteurship for this area.

Finally, the Commission notes that during its 146th session it approved reports on petitions and cases and received information that reflects some of the structural human rights problems that persist in the region. In the annex attached to this press release, the Commission analyzes some of these problems, based on the input gathered through the public hearings and other mechanisms in the course of these sessions.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 134/12