Media Center



March 16, 2006 - Washington, DC

I would like to begin by thanking the Chairman of CAAP, Ambassador Manuel María Cáceres, for the invitation he extended to me, as Chairman of the IACHR, to make some remarks on the Commission’s budgetary situation, and specifically the limitations to its capacity to function adequately in 2006. I would also like to thank this illustrious Committee for the steps it took that resulted in the Permanent Council resolution of September 30, 2005, providing for a redistribution of funds so that the IACHR could hold its 123rd regular session and carry out other essential activities required by its Rules of Procedure.

In the past five years, the Inter-American Commission has received over 7,500 new complaints. Every year we review an average of 900 initial petitions, 200 of which are processed during that same period of time. Over 200 requests for precautionary measures are studied every year as well. In 2005, for instance, the Executive Secretariat reviewed a total of 940 petitions. Of those, in 333 cases we requested additional information of the petitioner, 400 were dismissed, and in 120 cases, admissibility proceedings were initiated, or in other words, the petitions were sent to the respective member state.

Like the petitions, requests for precautionary measures are reviewed and analyzed by the Executive Secretariat to determine the procedures to follow pursuant to Article 25 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure. However, because of the nature of these measures, all of the requests received in the course of 2004 were reviewed that same year. At present, 191 precautionary measures are in effect. In addition, we make four on-site or working visits on average a year, and we hold two regular sessions annually, where we deliberate and adopt an average of 40 reports and conduct more than 50 hearings.

In addition to the work involved in processing individual cases and urgent protective mechanisms, we also have mandates handed down by the General Assembly through specific resolutions. During its last five regular sessions, the General Assembly has requested the Commission to give special attention to migrant workers and their families, human rights defenders, persons in detention, and indigenous peoples, as well as to subjects such as racism and freedom of expression. It has also requested the IACHR to prepare reports and special studies on these issues and on the situation of vulnerable groups, in addition to a report on terrorism and human rights. Moreover, it has been asked to support the process of drawing up the American Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to participate actively in programs and projects designed to eliminate obstacles to participation in democratic processes and to support processes for demobilizing groups operating outside the law.

The IACHR has enthusiastically received these mandates assigned to it by the General Assembly, as well as those handed down by the Summits of the Americas, since they testify to the growing legitimacy of the system and show the recognition by states of its relevant role and its priority within the Organization. However, the ability of the Inter-American Commission to fulfill such a wide range of diverse mandates requires an equal commitment in terms of allocation of human and financial resources.

In 1990, the IACHR’s budget was US$1,305,500. During the 1990’s, the challenges posed by the increased workload of the Commission were accompanied to some extent by a gradual increase in its budget, which rose to US$3,429,900 in 2004. As you can see in the attached graph, these increases were not commensurate with the increases in the workload and additional mandates during that period of time.

The situation reached a critical point with the IACHR’s regular budget for 2005 (US$3,077,500), which represented a reduction of about 10% in comparison with the 2004 budget. This reduction has seriously affected the operating capacity of the Inter-American Commission. While the 2004 budget allocated the amount of US$963,500 for operating costs, and the IACHR used this figure as a basis in the budget submitted to the Administration, the 2005 program-budget only allocated US$560,300 for that purpose, which represents a cut of US$403,200.

The total 2006 IACHR budget is US$3,174,500, or 4.16% of the overall OAS budget (US$76,275,500). According to the 2006 program-budget, the US$862,300 approved for operating costs will be used to defray the expenses of the two regular sessions, rental of offices, office equipment, the costs of common services, on-site visits, certain human rights promotional activities, including the “Rómulo Gallegos” scholarships, and participation in a reduced number of hearings of the Inter-American Court.

In this context, the Inter-American Commission recognizes and expresses its renewed gratitude for the important financial contributions made by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain, United States, Finland, France, Mexico, and Sweden, and for the funds provided by the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Commission, the Ford Foundation, the McCormick Foundation, and Notre Dame University. These contributions help strengthen the inter-American human rights system in this Hemisphere.

The OAS regular budget restrictions do not allow for sufficient administrative and professional staff to effectively perform the work of the Inter-American Commission. Moreover, the rules pertaining to performance contracts (CPRs) adopted last year prevent the uninterrupted contracting of administrative and professional personnel. The IACHR has been working with the General Secretariat to look into possible ways in which persons who are providing critically important services to fulfill the Commission’s mandates can be contracted within the regular budget.

The support of the member states belonging to this Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs, together with that of the General Secretariat, are absolutely vital to the IACHR in its efforts to duly perform its important functions and fulfill its mandates. I would therefore like to thank all of you in advance for your favorable consideration of the proposed adjustment to the 2006 budget presented by the General Secretariat.