Press Release

IACHR Welcomes First Session of OAS Working Group to Examine Reports on Fulfillment of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

February 24, 2015

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is pleased to announce the first session of the Organization of American States (OAS) Working Group responsible for examining the periodic reports presented by the States Parties to the Protocol of San Salvador, or the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Those participating in this first session include Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi, who is in charge of the IACHR Unit on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ESCR) and is a regular member of this OAS Working Group, as well as Commissioner Rosa María Ortiz, an alternate IACHR member of the Working Group.

The Protocol of San Salvador was adopted in 1988 and entered into force in 1999. It calls for the OAS States Parties to submit periodic reports on the progressive measures they have taken to ensure due respect for the economic, social, and cultural rights of their inhabitants. The OAS General Assembly decided that the national reports submitted would be examined by a Working Group, which is composed of three government experts, one independent expert, and one IACHR Commissioner. The first session of this OAS Working Group will take place at OAS headquarters on February 23-26, 2015.

This first session “constitutes a milestone—a historic event,” said Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi. “The Protocol reaffirms that one aim of the OAS is to consolidate a system of personal liberty and social justice in the hemisphere, one that is based on respect for human rights and that recognizes the close relationship that exists between economic, social, and cultural rights and civil and political rights. In fact, it states specifically that ‘the ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social and cultural rights as well as his civil and political rights.’ These are wise words, and most importantly wise concepts, contained in this Protocol drafted by the representatives of the OAS Member States in 1988,” he added.

“These concepts are at the heart of the political debate in this 21st century, a debate that is unfolding with particular emphasis and passion in the Americas,” added the Commissioner in charge of the ESCR Unit. “Our challenge as an organization, and the challenge we all have as a region, is to advance in harmony with regard to the respect for all human rights, including economic, social, and cultural rights. Because there can be no freedom where there is hunger, and there can be no future where there is no education or health care,” he said.

“This first session of the Working Group constitutes a milestone because it marks a significant step down the long road we still have to travel on this issue. The Working Group will receive and examine the reports that the States themselves will present on the progress they have made. The aim is to contribute and build by working together,” Commissioner Vannuchi said.

So far, 19 States have signed and 16 have ratified the Protocol of San Salvador. “With its first session to evaluate the reports from countries just a few days away, the Working Group welcomes the progress made and reiterates its willingness to work with the States as they go through the process of verifying compliance with ESCR, and also to receive the concerns and contributions of civil society organizations,” said the Chair of the Working Group, Laura Pautassi. She added that the Working Group “reiterates the need to move forward even further in strengthening the Working Group within the Organization of American States.”

In compliance with its mandates, the Working Group will begin the process by evaluating the reports presented by the States Parties pertaining to the first group of rights (right to health, education, and social security). The process will include making recommendations to the States with the goal of ensuring that economic, social, and cultural rights are progressively fulfilled in the region.    

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. 014/15