Press Release

IACHR Publishes Report on Impact of Friendly Settlement Procedure

November 10, 2014

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a report on the Impact of the Friendly Settlement Procedure. The official launch of the report took place on October 30 at the headquarters of the Commission, with the participation of members of the Commission, the Ambassador Permanent Observer of Spain before the OAS, representatives of Argentina and Mexico, and civil society organizations such as Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS). The panelists acknowledged the great importance of the use of the friendly settlement mechanism for the non-adversarial resolution of petitions and cases of human rights violations brought before the Inter-American Human Rights System.

"This report is a summary of three decades of progressive implementation of the friendly settlement procedure", said the Chair of the Commission, Tracy Robinson. "It contains information on how dialogue between petitioners, victims and States can materialize into creative, expeditious and flexible arrangements that finalize a dispute for human rights violations," she added.

The report seeks to strengthen the mechanism of friendly settlement by sharing information with all users of the inter-American System on the results obtained through friendly settlements. The Commission hopes that this information serves, to States and petitioners, as guide on the characteristics and good practices that have developed within the framework of the proceedings.

"Our primary goal is to improve the mechanism, to promote the expeditious access to justice of the victims of human rights violations through the use of an alternative mechanism based on the negotiation, and the good faith and the free will of the parties," noted the Chair Robinson in her presentation. “Ethically, we must promote agreements that are freely chosen that serve the interests of justice - especially for victims - and that are sincerely and properly implemented," she added.

For the petitioners and victims of human rights violations, the procedure of friendly settlement opens the possibility of negotiating the terms of repairing the damages caused by the violation of their rights and obtaining a faster resolution of the conflict and more appropriate to their own needs. In addition, to the States, the friendly settlement of the dispute allows them to prove their commitment to the respect and guarantee of human rights and the fulfillment in good faith of their obligations under the American Convention and other regional instruments that protect human rights. This space is also presented as an opportunity to adopt public policies built on a participatory scenario with the presence of petitioners, victims and to the accompaniment of the Commission.

The report is divided into two sections that refer to the evolution of the mechanism and the impact of the implementation of the friendly settlement agreements. States and petitioners have provided a wide range of reparation measures in these agreements. Thus, many victims of human rights violations have obtained full restitution of the violated right through friendly settlement agreements or its reparation through the execution of measures of satisfaction related to acknowledgment and public recognition of the responsibility of the State, public acts of redress and the publication of public apologies, as well as the investigation of the facts and punishment of those responsible for violations. Through these agreements, measures of medical and psychological rehabilitation have been adopted as well as social assistance, compensation measures and measures of non-repetition. The latter have been used to modify the structural conditions that gave rise to the petition filed with the Commission and seek to avoid committing future violations of human rights.

"The Commission values the efforts of States and petitioners during the almost three decades of negotiation, subscription and fulfillment of friendly settlements agreements. This has allowed hundreds of victims of human rights violations to obtain reparation and for the States to adopt essential measures to prevent the repetition of such violations, "said the Chair. The Commission reaffirms that it is available to users of the Inter-American System to facilitate future negotiations of friendly settlement.

This report has been published thanks to the support of the Spanish Fund for the OAS and it is available on the Commission´s Website.

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. 132/14