IACHR Trains 70 Lawyers in the Workings of the Inter-American Human Rights System
November 16, 2012
Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) this week has been offering training on the inter-American human rights system to more than 70 lawyers from 17 member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS). The training is part of a program to engage private-sector lawyers in the activities of the IACHR through voluntary service.
The law firms participating in the program, along with others that have signed the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas, have committed themselves to providing legal assistance free of charge to indigent individuals and nongovernmental organizations. This kind of training seeks to enable participating lawyers to offer legal services on a pro bono basis to petitioners in cases before the IACHR, as well as to support the inter-American human rights system in other ways. The Vance Center and Fundación Pro Bono Chile are currently carrying out projects designed to support the work of the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and plan to conduct additional training sessions for lawyers participating in the legal assistance program.
The training held this week included presentations by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, IACHR Chair José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, Commissioner Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza, Deputy Executive Secretary Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, UN Rapporteur on Torture and former IACHR Chair Juan Méndez, former IACHR Chair Carlos Ayala, the Ambassador of Peru to the OAS, Walter Albán, and Executive Director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, Roberto Cuéllar. Three U.S. government representatives also gave presentations: José W. Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs; Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; and Jane B. Zimmerman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
The program was organized by the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar Association and Fundación Pro Bono Chile, leaders in the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas and the Inter-American Pro Bono Network. The American University Washington College of Law, led by Dean Claudio Grossman, a former IACHR Chair, supported the program, along with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights and the ACE Rule of Law Fund.
The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice mobilizes the global legal profession to promote social justice, human rights and the rule of law. We work in partnership with private- and public-sector lawyers, non-governmental organizations, government officials, and law schools throughout the world. Founded in 2003, the Vance Center is part of the New York City Bar Association.
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.