Press Release

IACHR and Inter-American Court Create a Joint Working Group to Address their Financial Situation

August 30, 2016

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Mexico City – On August 29, 2016, a meeting was held between the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Afterwards, the plenaries of both organs of the inter-American human rights system held a meeting with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, in order to discuss the challenges faced by the inter-American system for the protection of human rights.

The President of the Inter-American Court, Judge Roberto F. Caldas, its Vice-President, Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor, judges Eduardo Vio Grossi, Humberto Antonio Sierra Porto, Elizabeth Odio Benito, Raúl Zaffaroni, and Patricio Pazmiño Freire, as well as the Secretary, Pablo Saavedra Alessandri, the Deputy Secretary, Emilia Segares Rodríguez, and the Juridical Director, Alexei Julio Estrada, attended the meeting on behalf of the Inter-American Court.  The President of the IACHR, James Cavallaro; its First Vice-President, Francisco Eguiguren, its Second Vice-President, Margarette Macaulay, Commissioners José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, Paulo Vannuchi, Esmeralda de Troitiño and Enrique Gil Botero, as well as the Executive Secretary, Paulo Abrão, the Assistant Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, and the Coordinator of the Group on Merits and Court, Silvia Serrano, attended the meeting on behalf of the Commission.

The Commission and the Court decided to establish a Working Group comprised by both organs in order to follow up on the dialogue of both plenaries throughout the year.  The priority of this group for this year will be to seek joint solutions for the serious financial situation affecting the inter-American human rights system.  The group’s mission will be to respond to the current financial emergency and to look for structural mid and long-term solutions in order to ensure the sustainable and adequate funding of the mandate and functions conferred to these organs by the member States.  The ultimate goal is to propose solutions that will allow the inter-American system to avoid any future financial crisis, such as the current one.  In the meeting, participants addressed the issue of the serious impact that the lack of funding has on the protection and defense of human rights in the region, as well as with regard to the access to international justice for victims of human rights violations.

“Any effort made must focus on the people as the sole beneficiaries of the inter-American system, ensuring greater protection for victims of human rights violations, and through the working group we will be able to take concrete action to resolve the financial crisis in the short term and with lasting solutions.”

"The decision adopted today to work together to seek solutions to the financial crisis is momentous," said the IACHR President, Commissioner James Cavallaro.  "The two organs will work together to propose to the OAS General Secretariat and the Member States a joint financial solution that guarantees a harmonious functioning of the inter-American system in its entirety," he added.

In addition, at the meeting the Commission and Court continued to strengthen the institutional dialogue between these organs and addressed topics of great importance, including challenges that arise from the procedural backlog, which has accumulated throughout the years due to the lack of adequate funding. 

In the meeting that both plenaries held afterwards with Secretary General, Luis Almagro, the serious budgetary situation of the Commission and the Court was also addressed.  All participants agreed on highlighting the importance of the inter-American human rights system as one of the fundamental pillars of the OAS, and consequently the imperative need to ensure reliable funding which would allow both organs to function efficiently in carrying out their mandates.

"We have the best disposition to receive a proposal for a solution to the serious problem of insufficient funding of the inter-American human rights system, to be presented jointly by the Commission and the Court," said the Secretary General of the OAS."  We completely agree with the need to ensure a sustainable budget for both organs, and we consider that the proposal prepared by the system itself, as a whole, would be the best starting point to truly find a sustainable and structural solution that we all seek," added Secretary Almagro.

In the meeting with the Secretary General several other topics were addressed, including the need to continue to work for the universalization of the system, the importance of respecting the autonomy and independence of the Commission and the Court from the political organs of the OAS, and the usefulness of increasing the time they have to present their annual reports to the General Assembly.

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.

No. 124/16