Press Release

IACHR Held Talks with States to Publicize Pilot Project to Expand the Friendly Settlement Mechanism

August 13, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held talks with Member States of the Organization of American States on August 7, 2019 at the IACHR headquarters, to publicize the Pilot Project to Expand the Friendly Settlement Mechanism. The meeting sought to present to States a proposed work plan to better implement the friendly settlement procedure and to apply it to more matters, as a strategy to reduce procedural backlog in the IACHR’s petition and case system.

Talks were attended by representatives of the States of Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname, the United States, and Venezuela. Talks were led by IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão, who noted that the Commission’s current strategy to manage and strengthen its petition and case system was expected to cause an unprecedented increase in the number of cases entering the admissibility and merit stages within the next two years. This gives the IACHR an opportunity to present the friendly settlement procedure as an alternative for users of the petition and case system. The friendly settlement system could work as a tool to overcome procedural backlog, through methodologies that enable that more matters can be addressed in the friendly settlement procedure, require less time for negotiations, increase the number of agreements signed and approved every year, and boost the level of compliance with published agreements, to ensure full implementation.

The IACHR is currently monitoring implementation for a total of 773 measures held in friendly settlement agreements. Progress has been made in the implementation of 83% of all measures held in agreements approved from the year 2000 until July 31, 2019. More specifically, 70% of those measures—a total of 546—have been fully implemented, while 112 already show partial or significant partial compliance. The Commission further notes that, among measures where partial or total implementation has been achieved, 506 have individual impact on petitioners, while 152 are structural. The Commission observes great diversity in the types of measures that have been implemented. Progress has been made to implement 153 guarantees of non-repetition, 138 compensation measures, 122 rehabilitation measures, 54 restoration measures, 151 satisfaction measures, and 40 measures for truth and justice.

In those friendly settlement procedures, the Commission has acted as an impartial facilitator, so that dialogue based on integrative negotiation might enable the parties to design the contents of reparation measures that reflect the needs and interests of victims of human rights violations. High levels of compliance with friendly settlements show that it is an effective mechanism, a very useful tool that States and petitioners alike can use to make progress on the human rights agenda for the Region, to contribute to developing a more effective and accessible inter-American justice, and to ensure comprehensive reparation for victims of human rights violations, through the Program to Expand the Friendly Settlement Mechanism.

This Pilot Project will seek to preserve the flexibility and the voluntary nature of the friendly settlement process, while at the same time enabling a timely assessment of each individual case, given specific progress made in each individual negotiation process over a given period. The Pilot Project will aim to ensure that negotiation processes are semi-structured, to enable more agreements to be signed, greater compliance with friendly settlement agreements to be attained, and more approvals to be achieved, all more quickly. In the context of this Pilot Project, the Commission will provide various options for States to exchange good practices and experiences concerning friendly settlements and alternative conflict resolution, to publicize different methodologies and concepts that could help to boost this mechanism on a regional scale.

The IACHR urges States to adhere to the Pilot Project to Expand the Friendly Settlement Mechanism. The Commission has issued an open invitation to all States, and will monitor any suggestions and responses they submit. Further, the Commission will shortly launch talks with civil society, to publicize the Pilot Project to Expand the Friendly Settlement Mechanism and various opportunities to promote current and future negotiation processes in the context of this work plan.

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. 199/19