Press Release

IACHR Announces Competition for Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights

February 16, 2017

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announces the opening of a public competition for the position of Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (ESCER). The ESCER Special Rapporteur will be responsible for supporting the IACHR in the fulfillment of its mandate to promote and protect economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the Americas.

The process by which the Commission will select the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights is governed by the applicable rules and regulations. The names and backgrounds of the candidates selected as finalists will be posted on the IACHR website on May 30, 2017. Applications will be accepted through March 15, 2017, based on the terms of reference in the vacancy announcement. The Commission hopes to complete the selection process in July and have the ESCER Special Rapporteur begin his or her duties on August 15, 2017.

“With the creation of the ESCER Special Rapporteurship, the Inter-American Commission is seeking to strengthen and expand its work of defending and protecting economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights,” the President of the IACHR, Commissioner James Cavallaro, said. “The IACHR trusts that it will be able to continue to count on the support of the Member States and of civil society in the region in carrying out this task,” he added.

For his part, Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi noted the historic nature and institutional importance of the fact, after years of effort, the IACHR has managed to secure the funding necessary to create the ESCER Special Rapporteurship.

“This is a momentous step in the history of the IACHR and the history of human rights in the region,” Commissioner Vannuchi said. “With this call for applications, we are on the way to having a Special Rapporteurship, in other words, a Rapporteur who will be working full time to defend, promote, and protect the economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of the people of the Americas.”

The decision to create a Special Rapporteurship on these rights was adopted by the IACHR in 2014. In April of that year, the Commission decided to initiate the process by establishing a special fund to raise the resources needed to finance the office.

“The creation of the ESCER Special Rapporteurship will allow the Commission to deepen and expand the work it has been doing in this area, with the implementation of a work plan that will enable it to address priority situations in the hemisphere as well as emerging issues,” Commissioner Vannuchi said.

For his part, IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão thanked those who in one way or another provided support to reach this goal. “This achievement is the result of the efforts of many social activists, and is also in keeping with an aspiration of the States of the region,” he said. “This had long been a matter of unfinished business for the inter-American human rights system, to balance out its thematic rapporteurships. This opens up a whole new set of possibilities to develop new inter-American standards, update the Commission’s thematic agenda, and fundamentally expand its social reach.”

The IACHR has worked for decades to promote respect for and observance of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the region. In 2012, the Commission created a Unit on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which was initially headed by Commissioner Rose-Marie Antoine and since January 2014 has been led by Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi. The ESCR Unit has carried out a process of regional consultations on the state of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States, with a final consultation scheduled to take place in Jamaica in March. The goal of this process has been to collect information on the thematic priorities identified in the various subregions, to help the Commission approach its work in this area. The IACHR has also produced a report on “Access to Water in the Americas: An Introduction to the Human Right to Water in the Inter-American System,” as well as another report on “Poverty, Extreme Poverty, and Human Rights in the Americas,” which is currently open to public comment.

Currently, the IACHR belongs to a Working Group that is responsible for examining the periodic reports of the States Parties to the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the “Protocol of San Salvador.” The protocol has been ratified by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay. The Protocol of San Salvador recognizes the right to work; the right to just, equitable, and satisfactory conditions of work; trade union rights; the right to social security; the right to health; the right to a healthy environment; the right to food; the right to education; and the right to the benefits of culture, among other rights. This instrument was adopted in 1988, and the text was based on a draft prepared by the IACHR. The Inter-American Commission again calls on the Member States that have not yet ratified this instrument to do so, in order to achieve its universal ratification.  

A principal, autonomous body of the 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. 015/17