Press Release

IACHR Presents Report on Legal Standards Related to Gender Equality in the Inter-American System

December 30, 2011

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) publishes today the report Legal Standards related to Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in the Inter-American Human Rights System: Development and Application. The report analyzes the degree of impact of the standards, recommendations, and decisions fo the inter-American system in the case-law emerging from the countries of the Americas related to gender equality and women’s rights.

The IACHR has repeatedly said that impunity for human rights violations is one of the main obstacles to observance of the rule of law in the region. Moreover, the Americas continue to be marked by social inequality and obstacles in access to justice, helping to perpetuate problems such as discrimination against women in its most extreme forms. In this scenario of complex and pressing realities, the IACHR has consistently recommended to the States to take the necessary measures to implement the obligation they have as member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), and to comply with the decisions, recommendations and orders of the IACHR and the Inter-American Court. The legal development of standards in the context of the inter-American human rights system on gender equality and the rights of women should be accompanied by efforts on the part of the States to implement them.

With this objective, a significant number of judicial judgments have been identified, handed down by various courts throughout the Americas, in which explicit reference has been made to the standards of the inter-American human rights system on discrimination and violence with gender-specific causes. The importance of the judicial judgments identified in this report is analyzed starting from the development of the standards of the inter-American human rights system on gender equality and women’s rights, and in particular the legal standards set by the system on violence and discrimination against women.

The IACHR observes that the application of the standards of the inter-American human rights system throughout the Americas is a heterogeneous process that moves forward slowly. This requires concrete, deliberate and immediate efforts on the part of the States to close the gap between the human rights commitments they have assumed, and their full and real implementation in the national level. The judicial decisions examined and the information collected reflects the still-limited and incipient application of inter-American human rights case-law by the judiciary in the countries of the Americas. In addition, the gravity and pernicious and silent nature of the problems of discrimination and violence against women have been confirmed, along with the challenges entailed for these cases to reach and be processed by the justice systems throughout the hemisphere.

The IACHR notes, as it has in prior reports, the importance of the efforts by the states to ensure that their judicial branches are trained in and informed of the precedents of the inter-American human rights system, and other international instruments of protection. It also notes the importance of initiatives to raise awareness of the judicial officers on the human rights of women as they are recognized domestically, regionally, and internationally with a view to attaining bolstered protection for their rights.

This report is the result of an initiative implemented by the IACHR with the support of the government of Canada to promote the development and application of the case-law and legal standards on gender equality and the rights of women in the Americas, and to support the OAS Member States in their efforts to comply with their obligatons in human rights in connection with gender equality and women’s rights.

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 human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. 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. 138/11