The IACHR Joins the International Community to Call for Urgent Protection of the Human Rights of Civilians in International Conflicts

November 14, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – Marking the 75-year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) joins the concerns shown by the international community about the human rights of civilians in armed conflicts around the world. The IACHR is particularly concerned about serious mass violations of the human rights of children and adolescents, women, older persons, persons with disabilities, and others.

Regional and international human rights standards and the provisos of international humanitarian law hold shared principles and aspirations based on historical precedent that should not happen again. Those past events based on ignorance of and disregard for human rights enabled outrageous brutality that left a mark on humanity's conscience.

The IACHR notes that, in line with the guiding principles of both declarations, all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that, endowed as they are with reason and conscience, they should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Freedom, justice, and peace in the world are based on the full recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all people. More than seven decades after they were established, these principles are notably relevant in the current global context.

As noted by several United Nations institutions, armed conflict is on the rise in various regions around the world, and some long-standing conflicts have been rekindled or have deepened. The number of violent conflicts is currently the highest it has been since 1945 and one quarter of humanity is estimated to be living in places affected by violent conflicts. Publicly available reports show that these contexts involve the loss of thousands of human lives, as well as shortages of food and water, forced displacements, the absence of medical care, and an absolute lack of healthcare supplies, all of which create the most terrible conditions for hundreds of thousands of defenseless individuals.

The IACHR joins other voices in the international community to stress that it is essential to look for alternatives to resolve armed conflicts, prioritizing efforts to safeguard rights and provide unrestricted protection to civilians. The IACHR further stresses that multilateral platforms must be used to pursue common goals for cooperation among nations, international organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to find and promote ways out and other responses that prioritize human rights, peace, and the dignity of all people in the world, in keeping with agreements, conventions, and other international commitments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Declaration, and the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.

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 to defend 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. 265/23

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