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OAS Secretary General Emphasizes that to Strengthen Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “Its Decisions Must Be Respected”

  March 17, 2010

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today emphasized that to strengthen the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) “its decisions must be respected.” During the inaugural ceremony of the Commission’s 138th Regular Session, which took place in Washington, D.C., the Secretary General also underlined the Commission’s “independence and autonomy” and emphasized that it is the main body of the Organization in matters of Human Rights: “There is no Human Rights body in the OAS that is above the IACHR.”

“The Commission has made enormous progress, but unfortunately we do not have in our Americas a universal system in which all countries would be members both of the Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This places some of the inhabitants of our region at a disadvantage. I am convinced we must proclaim the capital importance for democracy and freedom in the Americas of all of us being part of the same system,” Insulza said.

Likewise, he called on the countries of the continent to strengthen the IACHR: “Countries can protect it by becoming members and ratifying the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, since we want a universal system for all member states.”

“It is very important that we don’t look at the bodies within the system as antagonistic from the States, but that we seek the possibility of having a permanent dialogue with the Commission that would allow the countries to improve their internal procedures, their public policies and fix their mistakes.”

“Strengthening democracy is our fundamental task and the obligation of this Commission is to demand more each time from our member states, never be satisfied, always find room for improvement.”

Secretary General Insulza stressed the fact that for the first time the IACHR has three women among its commissioners. “I am sure this Commission will continue to have a fundamental role in the defense of women and human rights in the continent,” he concluded.

For his part, the President of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the OAS, Ambassador José Enrique Castillo Barrantes, asserted the importance of the IACHR as a body of the OAS “and the enduring commitment of the member states to the inter-American system of promoting and protecting human rights.”

Finally, IACHR Chair Felipe González said about the Commission: “In these five decades it has contributed to important advances, which themselves have strengthened Human Rights in the region.”

Reference: E-074/10