IACHR Approves Reform of its Rules of Procedure, Policies and Practices
March 19, 2013
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) approved the Reform of the Rules of Procedure, Policies and Practices by means of Resolution 1/2013, which it is publishing today. This reform is the result of a process begun in 2011 for the purpose of strengthening the protection and promotion of human rights. The process included as essential input the recommendations and observations presented by Member States, civil society, victims, academics, and other stakeholders in the inter-American human rights system. In approving this reform, the Commission is renewing its commitment to the defense and promotion of the fundamental rights of the human person.
Over the past two years, the Commission has carefully considered its procedures and mechanisms, through a process that included discussion forums, public consultations, and hearings, in order to garner the opinions, inputs, and experiences of all interested parties. The Commission considered these contributions with an open, constructive frame of mind, based on the principle that any reform must be aimed at strengthening the protection and promotion of fundamental rights, which is the useful purpose for which this institution was established and one of the principal objectives of the Organization of American States (OAS).
In adopting this reform, the IACHR set out to strengthen the Commission’s capacity to fulfill, in an independent and autonomous manner, its mandate to promote the observance and protection of human rights. The Commission also took into account that the reform must reconcile legal certainty with the flexibility necessary to respond to the needs of victims and persons at risk, improving access of all victims of human rights violations to the inter-American system. In addition, the Commission sought to enhance the transparency of its actions by providing accessible, complete, and relevant information in its accountability to all users of the human rights system. This reform also aims to identify best practices and challenges in the “protection of the essential rights of man and the creation of circumstances that will permit him to achieve spiritual and material progress and attain happiness,” as established in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The IACHR also took into consideration that in order to fulfill its mandate, the Commission must harmoniously develop its functions of promotion and protection, and that it must assist Member States in complying with their international responsibilities to strengthen their internal capacity and improve their mechanisms for protecting human rights.
Through the resolution, the IACHR amended Articles 25, 28, 29, 30, 36, 37, 42, 44, 46, 59, 72, 76, and 79 of its Rules of Procedure. It also adopted measures on institutional policy and practices - including modifications to the Strategic Plan - implementation of which will depend on the availability of the respective funds in a sustainable and predictable manner. Due to their complexity, the reform measures adopted require adequate time for preparing measures for their practical implementation and for obtaining additional funds. Consequently, the reform will take effect on August 1, 2013.
The Commission would like to acknowledge the contributions that Member States, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, victims, academics, and other stakeholders have made to this reform.
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 area. 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.