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IACHR Adopts Resolution on the Principles of Public Policies on Memory in the Americas

December 23, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published today Resolution 3/19 (available in spanish only) on the Principles of Public Policies on Memory in the Americas, which was passed on November 9, 2019, during the Commission’s 174th Period of Sessions in Quito, Ecuador. The IACHR issued this resolution based on the need to develop guidelines to design, build, and implement public policies on memory that reflect State obligations to ensure truth, justice, reparations, and non-recurrence measures in connection with serious human rights violations.

This IACHR resolution serves as a guide for States, based on the standards held in the Inter-American Human Rights System and on best practices observed in countries around the region. Similarly, it puts forward general principles for public policy in this field and develops guidelines for initiatives to encourage memory through educational, cultural, or any other actions, as well as promoting respect for remembrance sites and archives.

These Principles are the outcome of a public consultation process launched in 2017. The first round of consultations was held on October 21, 2017 in Montevideo by what was at the time the Thematic Unit on Memory, Truth, and Justice. The second round was held in Sucre on February 14, 2019, with the support of the Latin American Network for Transitional Justice (RLAJT, by its Spanish acronym) and the Network of Latin American and Caribbean Remembrance Sites (RESLAC, by its Spanish acronym), while talks with experts were also held on October 23, 2019 in São Paulo.

“Drafting guidelines to develop a policy on memory is a historical demand of victims and civil society,” said Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, the Rapporteur in charge of the IACHR’s Unit on Memory, Truth, and Justice. “Remembering events linked to serious rights violation is a way to honor victims, but also a way to strengthen democratic values that respect human rights within society,” Commissioner Urrejola stressed.

“We hope these Principles will be a tool to support States in their effort to develop public policies to remember serious human rights violations and to support civil society in its fight to preserve memory,” said IACHR President Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño. “Initiatives to preserve and disseminate historical memory that stem from an acknowledgement of responsibility for crimes this serious signal the State’s commitment to ensuring that similar events do not happen again in the future,” IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão noted.

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. 333/19