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OAS Secretary General participates in Conference on Human Rights and Friendly Settlements

  June 7, 2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today participated in the opening of the First Conference on Human Rights and Exchange of Good Practices in Friendly Settlements, held in Guatemala and organized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). In his speech Insulza said that human rights are one of the foundational elements of the OAS and stressed that from the very origins of the Organization "The American States have been at the forefront of international recognition of fundamental rights and guarantees."

The Charter of the OAS, said Secretary General Insulza, "clearly gives the Commission the mandate to 'promote the observance and defense of human rights' in all Member States" and "during the process of reflection on the Functioning of the Commission carried out by the Member States they showed a special interest in strengthening the friendly settlement procedure." Regarding conciliation, he continued, "It has been found to be the most appropriate means to achieve a harmonious solution between the State and the petitioners, protecting the interests of the victim and the general interest of society, with full respect for human rights."

The Secretary General also noted that the mechanism of friendly settlement when applied to human rights "extends the existing steps to resolve disputes" and "can be regarded as a reconciliation between parties, an act that is universally accepted to resolve disputes." When used successfully, Secretary General added, "some of the friendly solutions have allowed for measures with important effects at all levels of public intervention, such as legislative changes, public policy implementation, and services. Beyond offering reparations to the victim, the friendly settlement mechanism strengthens the jurisprudence of the country in defense of human rights."

However, the leader of the OAS recalled that, although the definition of the friendly settlement has been covered since 1969 in the American Convention on Human Rights, "its application has been sporadic, and therefore it hasn't been possible to develop standard practices that allows for the best form of compliance with friendly settlements."

On this point, the head of the hemispheric organization recognized the significant efforts made by the Commission to strengthen the mechanisms by creating the Friendly Settlement Group, by training its Executive Secretariat, and by developing protocols to facilitate processing cases through amicable means.

At the end of his address at the event held in Antigua, Guatemala one day after the close of the 43rd OAS General Assembly, -and organized by the Commission with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the government of Guatemala- Secretary General Insulza said that "this first conference will promote the use of the friendly settlement procedure, and in the not too distant future this type of procedure will be a common mechanism in the processing of requests." "I think we are seeing a widespread commitment by all users of the system not only to see respect for human rights in the hemisphere strengthened, but also the effectiveness of the systems created to support our noble precepts in defense of the inalienable rights of our citizens," he said.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-234/13