Remarks by the IACHR President

James Cavallaro

Watch video (minute 1:14:00)


June 15, 2016

Mr. Chairman of the General Assembly

Mr. Secretary General

Mr. Assistant Secretary General

Distinguished Heads of Delegation

Distinguished Representatives of Civil Society Organizations

Ladies and gentlemen,

As President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, I am addressing you pursuant to Article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

We would like to thank the government and people of the Dominican Republic for their hospitality as hosts of this General Assembly. Unfortunately, the civil society organizations accredited to participate in this Assembly were excluded from this forum yesterday for practically the entire day. We express our deep concerned about what occurred. We believe the apology from the host Foreign Minister was essential. We stress the importance of his words. We believe it necessary to adopt mechanisms to ensure that this situation will never be repeated.

The Annual Report gives an accounting of the Commission’s activities, how its financial resources are used, and the status of ratification of the inter-American human rights instruments. This is part of the effort to achieve universality of the system. The Annual Report also examines the human rights situation in the region.

The IACHR met four times in 2015. It held 110 hearings and 65 working meetings. It carried out activities in three areas:

  • defense and protection of human rights
  • monitoring of the human rights situation in the region
  • promotion of human rights


Given the short time available, I will highlight just a few examples.

With regard to the case system: In 2015, the IACHR received 2,164 petitions—the most in its history.

In 2015, the Commission examined 6,500 petitions to decide whether or not they would be processed. Through the plan that was implemented, the procedural backlog in the initial review stage for petitions was reduced by 65 percent.

Over the course of 2015, the IACHR approved 76 reports on individual petitions and cases. It made significant progress on friendly settlement agreements and sent 14 cases to the Inter-American Court.

With regard to precautionary measures: In 2015, the Commission received 674 requests for precautionary measures, an increase of more than 250 percent in a decade. The IACHR analyzed all the requests it received and decided to grant fewer than 7 percent of these requests.

Another achievement in 2015 was the implementation of the Individual Petition System Portal, using the latest technological advances. The IACHR launched this Portal to facilitate access to information about petitions, cases, and precautionary measures by users of the inter-American human rights system. The IACHR became the first body of its kind to have this type of mechanism.

In the area of monitoring, the Commission conducted visits and approved 13 thematic and country reports. The Commission thanks the Member States that invited the IACHR to carry out visits. The Commission made one onsite visit, to Mexico. It conducted 14 working visits to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the United States, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Mexico, as well as to the border between Colombia and Venezuela.

In the area of promotion, using the new communication technologies the IACHR carried out dissemination campaigns that reached 60 million people over the course of the year.

In 2015, the IACHR also held or participated in close to 150 promotional activities in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay, and at OAS headquarters. The IACHR thanks all the States that collaborated in this endeavor.


Now I would like to refer to the severe financial crisis we are going through.

First of all, we appreciate and thank the States that have expressed their support to the Commission, particularly the Foreign Ministries and other Ministries of Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, and Uruguay, as well as the Meeting of High-Level Human Rights Authorities of MERCOSUR. We also appreciate the expressions of support from international bodies, civil society organizations and networks, and individuals.

At this General Assembly we have received significant expressions of political support from Member States of the Organization, which we value and appreciate. We also received expressions of willingness to make special financial contributions in order to address this crisis. We would like to acknowledge and express our gratitude for the donations received from Antigua and Barbuda and from Chile. We also appreciate the offers of additional funding made by Argentina, Canada, Colombia, the United States, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay. We have also received announcements of special contributions from observer countries.

If the announced funding and other contributions arrive on time, we may be able to avert the severe crisis that was announced. This is essential so as to not leave unprotected those people for whom the Commission is their last recourse and their last hope.

However, the serious structural problem that produced this crisis continues to exist.

It is no surprise to anyone that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights does not have and has never in its history had adequate and sufficient financial resources to fulfill the mandate assigned to it by the Member States. While the Council of Europe earmarks 41 percent of its budget to the promotion and protection of human rights, the OAS earmarks 6 percent of its budget to the Commission and 9 percent to the entire inter-American human rights system, in other words, the Commission and the Court.

The IACHR is suffering from a structural, systematic situation of underfunding that must be addressed and resolved.

It is imperative for the States to adopt a sustainable solution to the chronic lack of funding under which the IACHR operates, so as to guarantee the right of everyone in the Americas to have access to international justice.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to refer to a matter of utmost importance: the opening of a consultation process regarding the IACHR’s five-year Strategic Plan.

Last Saturday, the IACHR announced its decision to launch a consultation process with all actors involved in the inter-American human rights system for the adoption of its Strategic Plan 2016-2020. This process will enable the Commission to open a constructive dialogue with the Member States, civil society organizations, and others involved in the inter-American system.

This consultation will also help to reinforce its practices related to transparency and access to information, and to generate greater certainty among those involved in the inter-American system. With this announcement, the IACHR renews its commitment to consult with all actors in the inter-American system to engage in transparent and constructive dialogue.


We are counting on you. The victims are counting on you.

Thank you very much.