Press Release

IACHR Celebrates 60th Anniversary

July 10, 2019

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Washington, DC - On June 25, 2019, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding at a solemn event in Medellín, Colombia, during the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). The event was attended by delegations from at least 19 OAS member states, observer countries, representatives from over 30 social organizations and movements, activists, academics, international experts, victims of human rights violations, and the general public.

The opening presentation was attended by Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, second vice president of the IACHR, who reflected on the work, impacts, and legacies of the IACHR in the Americas. Also present at the anniversary celebrations were the minister of foreign affairs of Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, the minister of foreign affairs of Costa Rica, Manuel Ventura Robles, the general coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (REDLAD), Enrique Arturo de Obarrio, the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Alberto Brunori, and the chief of staff of the Secretary General of the OAS, Gonzalo Koncke. The presentations included a video message from OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, who expressed his renewed commitment to continue strengthening IACHR capacities to protect human rights throughout the Americas. He also reminded those present of what has been achieved in the region through their work to ensure that human dignity is fully recognized and protected.

After the initial presentations, there was a panel discussion to reflect on and discuss new horizons in international human rights law, based on an analytical review of universal and regional human rights systems. The panel included Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, president of the IACHR; the counselor on human rights and international affairs to the president of Colombia, Francisco Roberto Barbosa Delgado; the regional director of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), Ángel Martin Peccis; former IACHR president and dean of law at the University of the West Indies Rose-Marie Belle Antoine; former IACHR president and dean emeritus of the Washington College of Law of American University, Claudio Grossman; and the executive director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Viviana Krsticevic. The panel was moderated by the executive secretary of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão.

During her opening presentation, Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, second vice president of the IACHR, noted that “the IACHR’s six decades of experience demonstrates that human rights can be advanced when civil society, states, and the victims of human rights violations work together. This is why spaces for discussion and the exchange of knowledge and experiences like this event to play such a crucial part in creating a human rights culture.” In her closing words, IACHR president Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena noted that “for 60 years, the IACHR has been fulfilling its mandate to promote and protect the human rights of the inhabitants of the Americas on the basis of their human dignity.”

The IACHR wishes to thank all the individuals, representatives of OAS member states, academics, representatives of civil society organizations, and victims who attended the event to commemorate this major anniversary of the creation of the IACHR. It also wishes to acknowledge the work of the special guests and panelists who made this space for reflection and dialogue around the IAHCR’s six decades of work possible. It is also grateful to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, the Office of the Attorney-General of Colombia, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, and the Organization of Ibero-American States for sponsoring this event.

The events commemorating the IACHR’s 60th anniversary will continue into the second half of 2019. These will include a solemn act which is scheduled to take place in September in Chile, which hosted the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in 1959, which decided to create the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Celebrations will also take place in Argentina and as part of the Third Forum on the Inter-American System that will be held in Ecuador in November. To mark this major anniversary, the IACHR also launched the IACHR Channel, a website with up-to-date, accessible multimedia productions on its activities, which includes a video on the IAHCR’s activities at the OAS General Assembly.

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. 171/19