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OAS Permanent Council Receives Civil Society in the Process of Strengthening the Inter-American System of Human Rights

  March 7, 2013

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) met today in a special meeting with civil society representatives to hear their views, in the context of the Inter-American system of Human Rights (ISHR), concluding on March 22 with the holding of an Extraordinary General Assembly at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC.

During the meeting, the Council heard speeches from 19 civil society organizations, covering issues such as the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR); details of the criteria for precautionary measures issued by the IACHR; the need to focus reforms of the ISHR on the victims and not the States; the universalization of the ISHR; the search for financial and human resources for the Commission; the organization and rhythm of the reform process; the need to avoid distractions in the process; proposals to reform the rules of procedures, policies, and practices of the IACHR; and alternative mechanisms for conflict resolution, among other topics.

The following organizations participated in the session: Alvarez Martinez Law Firm LLC, of the United States; Amnesty International, of the United Kingdom; la Asociación Interamericana de Defensorías Públicas (AIDEF), of Guatemala; la Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), of the United States; The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), of the United States; el Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, A.C. y Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”, of México; el Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH), of Nicaragua; la Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES), of Colombia; la Corporación Alegría, of Colombia; the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), of Estados Unidos; la Fundación Andina para la Observación Social y el Estudio de Medios (FUNDAMEDIOS), of Ecuador; la Fundación Pro Acceso, of Chile; la Organización Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos (ONALDEP), of Colombia; the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, of the United States; the Carter Center, of the United States; la Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA), of Guatemala; y la Unidad Industrial Iztapalapa, A.C., of México.

On behalf of the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, who travelled to Venezuela for the funeral of President Hugo Chavez, his Chief of Staff, Ambassador Hugo de Zela took the floor, who reiterating the "strong commitment of the Secretary General to the process of the strengthening of the ISHR." He said that Insulza "has traced important lines of work to help strengthen the system, a system that meets the organization's core tasks, and that has brought great prestige to the OAS."

De Zela said that, based on multiple factors, the Secretary General of the OAS has observed "the constructive engagement of stakeholders in the process, the active participation of the IACHR, civil society, and the users of the system, which allows us to argue that the process is on track." He recalled that "decisions taken at the General Assembly of Cochabamba represented, with absolute clarity, the wishes of the member countries about the limits of this process," and added that, in this context, "recommendations were made with specific targets: the IACHR, the Member States and the Secretary General." On this, he said that "it is the desire of the Secretary General that agreement is reached on their application," and noted that, in terms of the recommendations to the leader of the OAS, "the Secretary General believes that with his draft amendment to the regulation, and its practices and procedures, he has successfully attended the recommendations made by the General Assembly of Cochabamba." In this regard, De Zela mentioned the presentation made to the Member Countries of a proposal for financing of the Commission.

For his part, the Director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, Roberto Cuéllar, who took part in the session through a video presentation, highlighted the importance of promoting human rights. In particular, he emphasized the need to promote the right to justice; the group of rights connected with human rights education; and the economic, social and cultural rights of the peoples of the Americas.

During the meeting, the Council observed a minute of silence in honor of the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, who died on Tuesday, March 5. The tribute was held at the request of the Vice Chair of the Council and Permanent Representative of Barbados, John E. Beale, acting Chair in the absence of the Ambassador of Nicaragua, Denis Moncada. Several of the representatives of civil society organizations and representatives of all the countries expressed their condolences to Venezuela on the occasion of the death of President Chavez.

During the meeting, delegates from Bolivia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, the United States, Canada, El Salvador, Dominica, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, Panama, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru and Argentina all took the floor.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-080/13