Press Release

IACHR Announces its Schedule for 2018

January 30, 2018

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will have a full, intense agenda for 2018 that includes two on-site visits, four periods of sessions, the participation of its board of officers in the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) and in the Summit of the Americas, and the Second Forum of the Inter-American Human Rights System, among other activities.

“We look forward to a very intense year, and are excited to meet it head on,” said the President of the IACHR, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren. “The challenges and obstacles to the full enjoyment of human rights by the inhabitants of the Americas are significant and complex, which can only increase and reaffirm our commitment to defend, protect, and promote the human rights of all people in the hemisphere. We will never back down from our determination to build a present and a future in which all rights can be fully realized.”

The Commission’s 167th session will take place February 22-March 2 in Bogotá, at the invitation of the State of Colombia, and will mark the 70th anniversary of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, which was adopted in Bogotá in 1948. Under its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR will elect its new board of officers on the first day of the first session of the calendar year. The session in Bogotá will include public hearings and working meetings, which will be announced in due time, pertaining to all OAS Member States except for Colombia.

The 168th session will take place May 3-11 in Dominican Republic, at the invitation of the State of said country. During the second half of the year, the IACHR will hold two sessions, at least one at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The 169th session will take place September 27-October 5, and the 170th session December 1-7.

“Many of the Member States have shown their commitment to the IACHR in recent years by inviting the Commission to hold a session,” said the Second Vice-President of the IACHR, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño. “This has brought the IACHR closer to the individuals and peoples for whom it works, and has facilitated the participation of more people and organizations in hearings and working meetings, as well as enabled seminars and workshops to be held throughout the hemisphere,” she added. In 2016 and 2017, the IACHR held 10 sessions: four at its headquarters and the other six in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay.

Meanwhile, the IACHR will also carry out two on-site visits this year. Its visit to Honduras will take place July 29-August 4, while the visit to Brazil will take place November 3-14. On-site visits are an essential mechanism in the IACHR’s work of defending, promoting, and protecting human rights, and constitute one of the systems in place to monitor the human rights situation in countries. Based on the information received during an on-site visit and through its other monitoring mechanisms, the IACHR prepares a country report that includes an analysis of the general human rights situation, often with emphasis on certain issues of special concern in that country, as well as conclusions and recommendations to the State.

To continue coordinating the work of the inter-American human rights system, the meetings of the Joint Working Group of the Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will continue in 2018. The boards of both institutions will hold preparatory meetings, and in August there will be a plenary meeting in Mexico in which all members of both bodies will participate.

“The work of close coordination that the Commission and the Court have expanded and intensified in recent years has produced excellent results,” said the First Vice-President of the IACHR, Commissioner Margarette Macaulay. “We are going to continue on that path, with the profound conviction that it is essential to deepen understanding and coordination so that that the system’s two bodies can work in harmony to the benefit of victims and their families and of the people of the Americas in general,” she said.

Following the success of the First Forum of the Inter-American Human Rights System held in December 2017 at Commission headquarters, the IACHR and the Inter-American Court will organize the Second Forum, which will take place in the second half of 2018 at the Court’s headquarters in San José, Costa Rica.

“With the participation of hundreds of individuals and organizations, the First Forum exceeded all our expectations in terms of the interest it raised in the human rights community in our region,” said Commissioner Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva. “It also constitutes a great opportunity for us, as it allows us to take time out from the day-to-day urgent and important work and hear informed, constructive opinions so that we can continually keep improving the way we work.”

Planning a schedule of activities has been possible because an increase in the IACHR’s regular budget takes effect in 2018. In 2017, the OAS approved a twofold increase in the budget of the inter-American human rights system which will take effect from 2018 to 2020, at the rate of one third of the total increase each year. The IACHR deeply appreciates the budget increase approved by the Member States so that it can effectively and predictably fulfill the important mandate the States have given the Inter-American Commission and Court.

“This increase means that in three years, we will have the IACHR’s current operations guaranteed, with funding entirely from the OAS Regular Fund, which will allow us to have predictability and therefore be able to appropriately plan our work to fulfill the mandate that the Member States have given the IACHR. This includes monitoring the human rights situation in the 35 countries under our jurisdiction, working on the analysis and processing of thousands of cases, carrying out our role before the Inter-American Court, and continuing the cross-cutting work of the Rapporteurships and Thematic Units and our technical cooperation with the States, among many other activities,” said Commissioner Antonia Urrejola.

The IACHR notes that it is crucial for the Member States and other donors to continue making voluntary financial contributions, beyond the Regular Fund, to make it possible to implement the Strategic Plan 2017-2021, which was put together and approved with broad participation from all actors in the inter-American human rights system and is organized around five strategic objectives and 21 work programs.

“It is essential for the States to continue to support the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to ensure that it is financially sustainable in the short and long term,” said Commissioner Joel Hernández. “It is also crucial for the States to improve the level of compliance with the decisions and recommendations of the bodies of the inter-American human rights system. Both elements are indispensable to keep moving toward being a region with full respect for human rights,” he said.

For 2018, the IACHR is also planning for its board of officers to attend the Summit of the Americas and the OAS General Assembly, to actively propose discussions and promote awareness about the protection of human rights as a foundation for democracies and the rule of law in the region.

“The IACHR has saved and continues to save countless lives, and also has a profound impact in achieving the structural, legislative, administrative, and public policy changes that are needed to overcome the serious obstacles we continue to see in our region that hinder the effective exercise of human rights,” noted Commissioner Flávia Piovesan. “We are mindful of the challenges that await us in 2018 and have the strongest and most absolute commitment to help strengthen the IACHR as a key actor in the unending struggle to protect human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and peacebuilding in the region,” she said.

The entire schedule of IACHR activities for 2018 makes provision for time with civil society. “The whole agenda is being prepared to support the IACHR technically in its commitment to victims and to the affirmation of the prominent role of civil society. The activities are connected to the goals in the Strategic Plan to continue to progressively reduce procedural delays, keep prioritizing the friendly settlement mechanism, provide timely response to requests for precautionary measures, seek better compliance with IACHR recommendations, broadly monitor the human rights situation in the 35 member countries of the OAS, and, fundamentally, take a constructive position of dialogue to cooperate technically with the States with a view to transforming inter-American human rights standards into actual reality,” said the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão.

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 and to defend 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. 012/18