Media Center

Press Release


  November 11, 2009

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today held a special session to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR), the 40th anniversary of the American Convention on Human Rights and the 30th anniversary of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. During the event, emphasis was placed on the role carried out by these institutions to promote the recognition, respect and promotion of the dignity of people in the American continent.

The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, recalled the origins of the System, stating that Latin Americans “learned the hard way that the defense of Human Rights is essential in the fight for democracy; that there is no democracy without an unrestricted respect for Human Rights. The ‘never again’ that we learned from the relatives of executed politicians and the disappeared carries that message: no democracy can accept at any time restrictions or violations of fundamental human rights.”

Insulza characterized as “essential” the work of the Inter-American System of Human Rights in a continent that “continues to have unacceptable poverty rates.” Among the challenges ahead, the Secretary General highlighted “the considerable rise in denunciations of intra-familiar violence and the alarming rise in homicides of women because of their gender; the existence of many children who are undernourished and outside the educational system; of indigenous peoples whose rights are not respected; defenders of human rights and journalists murdered or persecuted; and an unacceptable situation in many of the penal institutions of our region.”

For her part, the President of the IACHR, Luz Patricia Mejía Guerrero, agreed that the region continues to be “the most unequal continent in the world,” and “affects disproportionately the least favored sectors, where indigenous populations, Afro-descendants and rural residents especially are found, and with an additional impact on women.”

“It is therefore the responsibility of this Commission to assume, besides these challenges, the vigorous defense of economic, social and cultural rights, a serious analysis of the responsibility that is not only the state’s of these rights, and also to develop a wide range of mechanisms to carry forth the fight against discrimination and social exclusion,” she said, adding at the same time that this labor will help to “continue building the path of human dignity.”

The President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Cecilia Medina Quiroga, paid a special tribute to Civil Society, “without which this System would not exist,” she said. “The development of the Commission and afterwards of the Court has been possible thanks to the constant hard work of people that have spread an awareness of international human rights law, of the existence of an Inter-American System of protection of human rights and have informed the victims of their rights and of the opportunity they have to resort to the System,” she indicated.

Finally, the President of the Permanent Council and Ambassador of Colombia to the OAS, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, called upon the Member States to provide the needed resources so that the System of Human Rights may continue to function properly.

“The strengthening of the System necessarily is accompanied by an increase in its budget, taking into account the fact that Member States are, at all times, the main contributors to the budgets of both bodies. Without resources, the system would lack real capacity and be reduced to the scope of ideas and debate, when it should be an expanding reality for us in the continent,” he said.

The Permanent Council approved the Rules of Procedure of the Legal Assistance Fund of the Inter-American System of Human Rights, which will allow it to extend access to people of lower means.

Reference: E-377/09