Media Center

Press Release

OAS Permanent Council’s Working Group on Human Rights Concludes Its Work

  December 14, 2011

The Working Group of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) on the Inter-American System of Human Rights has concluded its work, as was explained today during a regular session of the Council by the Group’s Chair and Permanent Representative of Mexico, Joel Hernández, who added that its conclusions are in a report to be submitted to the body that brings together the Member States in its first meeting in January.

The document is the result of deliberations over the last six months by the Special Working Group to Reflect on the Workings of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with a View to Strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System. The report conducts an evaluation of the operations of the system and formulates recommendations in the following areas, among others: challenges and objectives in the medium and long term; cautionary measures; procedural matters; criteria for the elaboration of Chapter IV of the Annual IACHR Report; friendly solutions; promotion of human rights; and financial strengthening of the Inter-American System of Human Rights. “We achieved a report thanks to the spirit of the delegations and the will to formulate concrete recommendations,” the representative of Mexico said.

On this point the delegations of Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, United States, Canada, Guatemala, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay took the floor, highlighting the importance and value of the debates and thanking the work of the two chairs that presided over the Group, Ambassador Hugo de Zela, former Permanent Representative of Peru, now Chief of Staff to the Secretary General and promoter of the idea, and Ambassador Hernández.

At the regular meeting of the Permanent Council, which took place at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, the body also approved the preparation of a draft Convention for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Elderly "to be submitted before the end of the first half of 2012.” In this regard, the Chair of the Working Group on the Protection of Human Rights of Older Persons and Alternate Representative of Argentina to the OAS, Ana Pastorino, presented before the permanent representatives the "report on the situation of older people in the hemisphere and the effectiveness of binding universal and regional instruments on human rights in relation to the protection of the rights of the elderly."

In her speech, Pastorino noted "the situation of vulnerability for older people in the hemisphere on the exercise of their rights and "the need for governments to ensure that this vulnerable group enjoy, as all other citizens, of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights." She also recalled that "although there are some instruments of regulation and protection, these are not legally binding." The Convention will fill that gap as an instrument that obliges countries to protect the human rights of older persons "under the urgency imposed by the escalation of demographic change."

The Permanent Council also approved a proposal from the Permanent Mission of Canada to convene the Third Meeting of the REMJA Working Group of Officials Responsible for Penitentiary and Prison Policies of the Meeting of the Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA), to be held in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, on February 20-22 of 2012. The Alternate Representative of Canada to the OAS, Douglas Janoff, encouraged all Member States to participate in the hemispheric meeting to exchange views and deepen collaboration in the administration of correctional and penitentiary systems, a subject he described as "an ongoing challenge for all our countries."

The agenda of today’s Permanent Council also included a review of the results of the Third Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas (MISPA III), held in Port of Spain on November 17 - 18, 2011. The Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago, Neil Parsan, presented a summary of the discussions and presentations made at the meeting and highlighted the achievements accomplished ​​in terms of police management in the hemisphere through the commitment of countries to promote the professionalization and modernization of police forces. He also stressed that within the framework of the ministerial meeting the institutionalization of MISPA was achieved.

The Permanent Council was informed that the next meeting MISPA meeting will take place in Colombia in 2013, an event that will serve to review progress made in the next two years, as well as to develop new initiatives according to the new security challenges.

During the session, the Permanent Council also approved the inclusion of the following seven new civil society organizations registered to participate in all the OAS activities: “Fundación para una Democracia Participativa” (FUDEPA), “Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina” (AMIA), “Fundación Construir; Oficina Jurídica para la Mujer”; Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD); The International Crisis Group; and the “Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente” (AIDA).

The Council’s last meeting for 2011 concluded with the Commemoration of the International Day of Human Rights at the request of the Permanent Mission of the United States. William McGlynn, U.S. Alternate Representative, recalled that the OAS Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man was the first comprehensive document of its kind, approved six months before the UN Declaration, which he said "demonstrates the OAS leadership has had on this important matter." The commemoration of Human Rights Day is therefore "an opportunity to acknowledge the dedication of the people in organizations who work to defend Human Rights in the Americas and the world."

A gallery of photos of the event will be available here soon.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-1015/11