Press Release

IACHR Chooses Soledad García Muñoz as Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (ESCER)

July 5, 2017

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Lima, Peru — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today selected Soledad García Muñoz to be the first Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (ESCER). The Commission sent her name to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), who approved the appointment. In accordance with Article 15 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure, Soledad García Muñoz will be appointed for a three-year period, which may be renewed once. She will take office on August 15, 2017.

The Inter-American Commission made its decision based on the candidate’s professional qualities and experience, taking into special consideration her technical capacity, her leadership, and her ability to work effectively with States, civil society organizations, and other actors in the inter-American human rights system. The Commission also took into account the broad support her candidacy received during the public comment period, which was expressed by civil society organizations from many countries in the region.

Soledad García Muñoz is an attorney of Argentine nationality with a specialty in fundamental rights from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, in Spain, where she did a comparative study of the inter-American human rights system and the European system. Throughout her career, she has led or participated in projects, research, and training opportunities offered to public institutions, human rights defenders, social movements, journalists, and companies in connection with numerous aspects of human rights. She has worked as a consultant for various agencies of the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the OAS, the Ibero-American Youth Organization (OIJ), the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM), the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, and the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Guatemala, among others.

She served as Project Coordinator for CEDAW-Argentina for the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR) and was a member of the Expert Group on Indicators of the Exercise of Women’s Rights of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM). She worked with Amnesty International, as Chair of its Argentine Section and as a member and Vice-Chair of its International Executive Committee. She has extensive experience in national and international litigation before the European, inter-American, and universal human rights systems. She currently serves as IIHR’s Regional Representative for South America.  
“In a critical context of significant challenges to the effective enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the Americas, the creation of this Special Rapporteurship provides an opportunity for the inter-American system to take the lead in addressing human rights in their interdependence and indivisibility,” Soledad García Muñoz said after she was selected. “I will work to integrate the work of this new Rapporteurship into the other thematic areas of the Commission, encouraging a broad dialogue in our work and supporting the development of new inter-American standards in the area of ESCER.”

Soledad García Muñoz will be the first person to hold the position of IACHR Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights. “With this new ESCER Special Rapporteurship, the Inter-American Commission will be able to strengthen and deepen its work of defending and protecting economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights,” said the President of the IACHR, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren. “The beginning of this Special Rapporteurship marks an historic moment for the inter-American human rights system, one that will enable it to broaden and deepen the cross-cutting work the Commission has been doing in this area,” President Eguiguren added.

“Having a Special Rapporteur who will work full-time at the Commission to defend, promote, and protect the economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of the people of the Americas is momentous in the history of the IACHR and in the history of protecting human rights in the region,” said Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi, who is in charge of the ESCER Unit that now becomes the new Special Rapporteurship. “There are enormous challenges in guaranteeing these rights in the region, and I am confident that the new Special Rapporteurship will become an important mechanism to continue the efforts that have already been implemented and to move forward in upholding and protecting these rights. The inter-American community had been waiting for this moment, which represents a major achievement of civil society and the States of the region,” he added.

This selection was the result of an extensive, open, transparent, and participatory process. The Commission appreciates the interest shown by the 92 individuals who applied to the position, which was posted for competition on February 16, 2017. During the Commission’s 162nd special session, held in Buenos Aires on May 22-26, 2017, the Commission selected the finalists and published their curricula vitae on its website. In line with the provisions established in Article 15.4 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure, the Commission opened up a public comment period, from May 23 to June 15, 2017, to receive observations on the finalists. During this period, the IACHR recorded 475 comments from OAS Member States and from civil society.

The full Commission interviewed the four finalists on July 3, during its 163rd session, being held in Lima, Peru. The IACHR recognizes the excellent professional capacity of all those selected as finalists, which was again made evident during the interviews. The Commission thanks the finalists for participating in this process.

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 and defense of 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. 090/17