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OAS Secretary General Highlights Achievements and Dedication of the IACHR in Conclusion of 154th Period of Sessions

  March 27, 2015

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today highlighted “the enormous dedication of the members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR),” in his speech to the closing ceremony of the 154th Period of Sessions of the Commission.

“This being, with complete certainty, the last opportunity that I will have to speak to you as Secretary General of the OAS, I would like to thank the Commission, its Executive Secretary and its staff for the good will always demonstrated in our relationship,” said Secretary General Insulza, who concludes his mandate on May 25.

“Above all,” he added, “for the enormous dedication with which you have always faced your responsibilities in this great work, one of the priority areas of the OAS, of defending and promoting the cause of human rights.”

“The protection and promotion of human rights is one of the pillars of the work of the Organization,” said Secretary General Insulza. “I have said it many times: the IACHR is a main body of the OAS, like the Permanent Council or the General Secretariat. The IACHR is the OAS when it comes to human rights issues,” he said.

The Secretary General said that “from the beginning of my time as Secretary General of the OAS, I set among my priorities the effective recognition of the independence and autonomy of the Inter-American Commission as a principal body of the Organization of American States, as well as the dissemination of its reports and calling on states to comply with its recommendations.”

The OAS leader emphasized the process made by the IACHR in several areas, among them: the development of internal legislation in the countries of the Hemisphere based on international standards of human rights on issues such as forced disappearance, the death penalty, and terrorism; the derogation of amnesty laws due to their incompatibility with the American Convention on Human Rights; the derogation of the so-called “contempt laws” in virtue of their incompatibility with the right to freedom of expression; the adoption of laws to protect the victims of domestic violence; and the promotion of public policies to promote racial equality.

In addition, the Secretary General warned of the challenges facing the Commission, including the need to increase its budget. “No measure will be successful, and the commitments to strengthening will be in vain, if the IACHR does not have the financial support of the states. The credibility and legitimacy of the Inter-American System of protection are based on the fact that its decisions are taken in a completely independent manner; taking them in a timely manner and applying them efficiently requires greater resources, which, despite the efforts previously detailed, are not sufficiently available,” said Secretary General Insulza.

In concluding his words, the Secretary General expressed his hope that “in the coming years, the Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will continue to comply with their responsibilities with the constant efforts of their members and staff.” “In doing so, they have the support o0f the tens of thousands of Americans that depend on the System and the many more who value its work,” he concluded.

For her part, the Vice Chair of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the OAS, La Celia Prince, highlighted that, “by means of this hearing process, I believe that the Commission not only demonstrates fidelity to its own mandate but also contributes substantially to directly reinforcing two of the pillars of the OAS: human rights and democracy. With democracy there are no human rights, and without human rights, there is no democracy.”

The President of the IACHR, Rose-Marie Antoine, thanked the Secretary General for his contributions to the work of the Commission. “Specifically I would like to underscore your strong statements in defense of the autonomy of the IACHR.” In addition, she thanked the member states for their strong attendance during the period of sessions, which she called “a show of good faith in the system.”

The 154th Period of Sessions of the IACHR took place from March 13 to 27, 2015. 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 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.

During the closing session, the representatives of the United States, Mexico, Paraguay, Brazil, Guyana, Argentina, Jamaica, Dominica, Uruguay, Colombia and Haiti took the floor.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video news of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-108/15