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OEA/Ser.P
AG/RES. 1701 (XXX-O/00)
5 June 2000
Original: Spanish

RESOLUTION

EVALUATION OF THE WORKINGS OF THE INTER-AMERICAN SYSTEM FOR THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WITH A VIEW TO ITS IMPROVEMENT AND STRENGTHENING.

(Resolution adopted at the first plenary session, held on June 5, 2000)

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,

HAVING SEEN:

The report of the Permanent Council on the evaluation and improvement of the inter-American system for the protection and promotion of human rights, submitted pursuant to resolution AG/RES. 1633 (XXIX-O/99) (CP/doc.3302/00); and

The report of the Chair of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs concerning the dialogue on the inter-American system for the protection and promotion of human rights (CP/CAJP-1610/00 rev. 2), held under the aegis of the Committee, which identifies the various items addressed, as well as the points of agreement and disagreement on those items;

BEARING IN MIND that the member states of the Organization of American States have proclaimed, in Article 3 of the OAS Charter, as one of the principles of the Organization, the fundamental rights of the individual, without distinction as to race, nationality, creed, or sex;

AWARE that the international promotion and protection of human rights enhances and complements the protection afforded under the domestic law of the member states and is based on the freedom and dignity of the individual; and

CONSIDERING:

That, in the Plan of Action of the Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998, the heads of state and government affirmed the need to strengthen and improve the inter-American human rights system through concrete initiatives;

That, in that connection, the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs began a dialogue on the inter-American system for the protection and promotion of human rights, in which, in addition to the member states of the Organization, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR), as well as representatives of nongovernmental organizations engaged in the protection of human rights participated;

That in November 1998, in a letter addressed to the ministers of foreign affairs of the OAS member states, the IACHR requested ideas and suggestions on the reform process from all parties involved in the inter-American human rights system, and that, at a seminar held in San José, Costa Rica in November 1999, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights also invited suggestions as to the reform of its procedures;

That the significant progress in that dialogue was made possible, in part, by the openness, transparency, and constructive participation of the states, and the decision to include in the dialogue the organs of the system, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, whose participation was also distinguished by its objectivity, balance, and spirit of cooperation;

That on February 10 and 11, 2000, in San José, Costa Rica, there was a meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Human Rights created by the ministers of foreign affairs taking part in the celebrations marking the anniversary of the American Convention on Human Rights and the establishment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and bearing in mind the conclusions reached at that meeting;

That the consolidation of a sound and effective human rights system capable of addressing future challenges requires, among other things, implementation of the decisions of the inter-American bodies for the protection of human rights, in accordance with the American Convention, as well as the building of a political environment of mutual trust among the various players that will facilitate ongoing, continuous, and open dialogue aimed at the identification and implementation of measures and actions needed to improve and strengthen the inter-American system for the protection and promotion of human rights;

That it is vital, therefore, that the dialogue on the inter-American human rights system continue among member states of the Organization, with the participation of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the nongovernmental organizations involved, so that they may continue to gradually build consensus on the improvement and strengthening of the inter-American human rights system;

That government efforts in the Hemisphere to improve and strengthen the inter-American human rights system, including the possibility of evaluating the pertinent legal instruments and the methods and working procedures of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, should be designed to strengthen the effective exercise and protection of human rights in the Hemisphere; and

That, to that end, it is essential that all member states sign, ratify, or accede to, as appropriate, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the Additional Protocol to the American Convention to Abolish the Death Penalty, and the following inter-American human rights instruments: the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, and the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities,

RESOLVES:

1. To continue to improve and strengthen the inter-American system, through systematic and ongoing dialogue among the states, the organs of the system, and other parties involved, aimed at gradually building consensus on the current status of the system and on the obstacles and deficiencies to be overcome, with a view to guaranteeing the effective exercise and protection of human rights in the Hemisphere.

2. To instruct the Permanent Council to continue to engage in a dialogue on the inter-American human rights system with a view to improving and strengthening that system by ensuring the participation of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and by also inviting other bodies, such as the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, and representatives of interested nongovernmental organizations to continue their contributions to that process.

3. To instruct the Permanent Council to promote, in the context of the dialogue on the inter-American system, participation by national institutions involved in the promotion of human rights, such as defenders of the people, defenders of the population, human rights attorneys, human rights commissioners (ombudsmen), or others with an equivalent role.

4. To instruct the Permanent Council to promote a substantial increase in the allocation of resources to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in upcoming fiscal years, in recognition of the fact that the protection and promotion of human rights is a central priority of the Organization.

5. To urge the OAS member states to:

    1. Attach the highest political priority to the universal adoption of the inter-American system through the signature and ratification of, or accession to, by all member states of the Organization, the American Convention on Human Rights and the other inter-American human rights instruments, giving consideration to the recognition of the binding jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court, and encourage the states that have not yet done so to adopt the domestic measures required for the signature and ratification of, or accession to, those instruments;
    2. Adopt the necessary legislative or other measures, as applicable, to ensure the application of inter-American human rights provisions within the states;
    3. Adopt the necessary measures to implement the decisions or judgments of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, pursuant to the provisions of Article 68 of the American Convention, in the case of those states that recognize the binding jurisdiction of the Court;
    4. Do their utmost, in good faith, to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and
    5. Take appropriate action in connection with the annual reports of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in the context of the Permanent Council and General Assembly of the Organization, in order to fulfill their duty as states to guarantee compliance with the obligations set forth in the instruments of the system.

6. To recommend to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in connection with its request for ideas and suggestions on the reform process, in accordance with the provisions governing its areas of competence, and in the context of the regulatory autonomy conferred upon it by the American Convention on Human Rights in terms of the procedures followed in processing individual cases, it consider the possibility of:

    1. Defining the criteria it follows for the opening of cases;
    2. Resolving questions pertaining to the admissibility of individual petitions by opening a separate, mandatory procedure and issuing their findings by way of concise resolutions, the publication of which shall not prejudge the responsibility of the state;
    3. Making all necessary efforts to ensure that individual cases are processed as expeditiously as possible and that each procedural stage, in particular the admissibility phase, is governed by reasonable deadlines; and considering defining the criteria to be followed in determining when a case should be closed because of inaction on the part of the petitioner;
    4. Continuing to promote the friendly settlement procedure as a suitable mechanism for the successful resolution of individual cases;
    5. Establishing minimum criteria that petitioners must meet in order for the IACHR to request a state to adopt precautionary measures, bearing in mind the circumstances and nature of a case;
    6. Defining the criteria the Commission follows for referral of cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and
    7. Establishing a frame of reference enabling the Commission to establish a new rapporteur function, define clearly the mandates of such a rapporteur, and appoint an individual to the position.

7. To recommend to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in connection with its request for ideas and suggestions on the reform process, in accordance with the provisions governing its areas of competence, and in the context of the regulatory autonomy conferred upon it by the American Convention on Human Rights in terms of the procedures followed in processing individual cases, it consider the possibility of:

    1. Allowing direct participation by the victim as a party to proceedings, from the time that the case is first submitted to its jurisdiction, bearing in mind the need to maintain procedural equity and to redefine the role of the IACHR in such proceedings (locus standi); and
    2. Developing procedural rules to prevent the duplication of procedures in cases submitted to its jurisdiction, in particular the production of evidence, bearing in mind the differences in nature between the Court and the Commission.

8. To transmit this resolution to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

9. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-first regular session on the fulfillment of this resolution.

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