Press Release

IACHR Overcomes its Severe Financial Crisis of 2016 and Thanks Countries and Donors who Made it Possible

September 30, 2016

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is pleased to announce it has overcome the severe financial crisis which threatened to limit its capacity to comply with basic duties. The answer from Member States and other donors enabled the Commission to sustain its installed capacity regarding processing of petitions, cases and precautionary measures and of monitoring the human rights situation in the region, through the renewal of the staff contracts for the rest of the year. Furthermore, the Ordinary Period of Sessions of the second semester, which had been suspended due to the lack of funds, has been now rescheduled.

“We announce with great satisfaction today that the severe financial crisis we went through in 2016 has been overcome,” said the IACHR President, Commissioner James Cavallaro. “This was possible thanks to the special financial efforts done by Member States and other donors to help solve the urgent problem. The crisis announcement led to a mobilization of resources with a speed not usual in the world of international cooperation. This is further evidence that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has an extraordinary institutional legitimacy among Member States and other international donors, be it States and international or regional organizations”, he added.

The IACHR especially thanks the efforts done by Argentina, which announced a total annual contribution of 400,000 dollars; Chile, which besides contributing 80,000 dollars also organized the Extraordinary Period of Sessions in June;  Panama, which on top of contributing 150,000 dollars is organizing the Ordinary Period of Sessions of the second semester of the year; as well as Colombia (contribution of 100,000 dollars), Mexico (50,000 dollars), Peru (55,000 dollars), Uruguay (24,000 dollars) and Antigua and Barbuda (1,800 dollars). Furthermore, the IACHR thanks the contributions made by the European Commission, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Arcus Foundation, Cammina, United Nations Agency for Refugees (ACNUR), and the Universities of Notre Dame and Stanford. These funds add up to the voluntary annual contribution of the United States, which in 2016 was 2,483,100 dollars, which is essential for financing basic functions of the Commission. In addition, Canada has had regular discussions with the Commission about this issue and the IACHR has submitted a detailed funding proposal for Canada's consideration.

“These contributions enabled us to overcome the imminent risks we were facing: the possibility of not conducting an ordinary period of sessions, and the possibility of losing an important part of our capacity to comply with our duties if we had lost almost half of the staff,” the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão, said. “Both issues have been solved, and that is the reason why we can say today that the crisis of 2016 has been overcome. This does not mean we have solved the severe structural issues of a deficient funding, which still requires a determined action from the States”, he explained. 

The IACHR is also grateful for the moral support received from many different quarters since the crisis was announced. Among them, the strong support from the OAS General Secretary, the UN General Secretary, the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights, as well as the two largest independent bodies and mechanisms in the United Nations human rights system (the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures and the Chairpersons of Human Rights Treaty Bodies); of hundreds of national, regional and international  human rights organizations; associations and organizations of indigenous peoples, youth, women, afro descendants, writers and students; universities and other educational entities; as well as victims of violation of human rights whose cases were processed in the IACHR, their families and representatives, among others. Furthermore, the IACHR values the efforts done by its Executive Secretariat in order to overcome this crisis.

“The announcement of the IACHR’s crisis generated a massive mobilization that, to be honest, was deeply moving for every one of us who dedicates with so much commitment to the cause of human rights from this very special place that is the IACHR,” said the President of the Commission.  “It was especially moving to read the messages of victims of human rights violations and their families, saying they knew the value of the Commission and asking if they could donate. What we experience these recent months, especially the supportive messages from people who found in the IACHR an effective answer to their situation, has renewed and reinforced our commitment with the defense of human rights in the region.” 

“The IACHR has emerged strengthened from this crisis”, concluded President Cavallaro. 

In order to prevent the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights from facing a new crisis next year, it is of utmost importance that the Member States approve an appropriate regular budget. The IACHR and the Inter-American Court have formed a joint working group to present the OAS General Secretariat with an integral proposal for sustainable financing of both organs of the Inter-American System of Human Rights. On October 31, the OAS Extraordinary General Assembly will decide on the 2017 budget. 

“The current OAS regular budget for the IACHR, of 5,3 annual millions of dollars, is insufficient to comply with the important and delicate mandate that the States has given us, of ensuring respect and guarantee for human rights of every  inhabitant of the region,” said the President. “We trust that, in the light of what the IACHR went through this year, Member States will adopt the needed decisions to guarantee the adequate and sustainable functioning of the Inter-American Human Rights System.” 

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. 145/16