Press Release

IACHR Launches Initiative for Human Rights Promotion and Signs First Agreement with UNAM

July 2, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) launched an initiative aimed at promoting the inter-American human rights system and it standards via cooperation agreements with universities in the region. On June 24, 2013, the IACHR signed the first of these accords, with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

“The signing of this agreement comes as part of the human rights promotion activities the Inter-American Commission itself carries out on an ongoing basis in the region, for the purpose of disseminating the results of its work related to the defense and observance of human rights,” said the Chair of the IACHR, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, at the agreement signing ceremony, which took place at UNAM headquarters in Mexico City. Others attending the ceremony included UNAM President José Narro Robles and IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza.

Through this agreement, the Inter-American Commission will support three activities to be carried out by UNAM: training students through hypothetical case studies, holding a specialized seminar on the subject, and awarding a fellowship that will enable a student to receive professional experience at the Inter-American Commission’s headquarters.

The IACHR Chair stressed that this accord was conceived and signed so that, “through the teaching of inter-American case law and standards, it will create synergy in the university community and in civil society around the importance of the respect for and guarantee of human rights, whose very essence is the protection of human dignity, the guiding principle, central purpose, and essential value of every democratic constitutional rule of law and of the inter-American system of human rights.”

The international human rights competition, which will be managed by the UNAM School of Law, consists of a simulation of the proceedings a petition would go through at the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The aim is for participants from different universities around the world to be able to discover the possibilities available as a result of knowing and mastering international human rights standards, particularly those developed in the context of the inter-American human rights system, so that in the future these can be incorporated into domestic law through litigation and through decisions handed down by national courts.

In addition, the IACHR and UNAM agreed to hold an International Seminar on the Inter-American Human Rights System, which will be run by the UNAM Institute of Legal Research and geared toward academics, students, nongovernmental organizations, and public servants. Participants will receive specialized training in international human rights law through panel presentations and lectures offered by a group of academic experts and noted specialists in the field.

The winner of the competition will receive a fellowship funded by UNAM, which will make it possible for the person to participate directly in the work of the IACHR Executive Secretariat for eight months, under the supervision of human rights specialists at the Commission. The fellowship will be geared toward providing practical training in the inter-American human rights system, with the goal that the fellowship recipient will later be able to apply that knowledge in his or her country of origin.

The activities are named after three renowned Mexican jurists known for their contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights: the “Sergio García Ramírez” Competition; the “Héctor Fix Zamudio” Seminar; and the “Jorge Carpizo Mac Gregor” Fellowship. On this point, IACHR Chair Orozco stated: “I am certain that the agreement…will be of great benefit for the purpose that has been indicated, and I am also convinced that it will further deepen the imprint of our beloved and admired teachers, whose thoughts have been a source of learning for law professionals and students, but whose efforts have translated into a central purpose, to realize the hope of attaining justice in the inter-American system, in a subsidiary and complementary way, for those whose rights have been violated in the region and who have found national mechanisms for protection against injustice or arbitrariness to be lacking or ineffective.”

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 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. 49/13