June 11, 2016Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — As it looks toward the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which begins Monday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the Member States to redouble their efforts to overcome the financial crisis the Commission is going through. In addition, the IACHR announces today its decision to launch a consultation process with all actors involved in the inter-American human rights system so as to ensure a transparent process for the adoption of its Strategic Plan 2016-2020. This consultation process will enable the Commission to open a constructive dialogue with the Member States, civil society organizations, and others involved in the inter-American system.
During its 158th special session, held this week in Santiago, Chile, the IACHR deliberated over its severe financial crisis and examined its programs and general lines of work for the next five years. In order to be able to engage in dialogue with all relevant actors about the work it plans to do in that period, the Commission decided to open a transparent process which will include consultation of its Strategic Plan. This consultation process will help to strengthen and improve the work the Commission carries out through its various instruments and mechanisms, such as its case and petition system, and through its monitoring and promotion efforts.
This consultation will also help to reinforce its transparency and access to information practices, and generate greater certainty among those involved in the inter-American system. The Commission’s Strategic Plan seeks not only to address the current financial crisis but also to create the best conditions for adequate and sustainable funding that will enable it to fulfill its mandate of defending, protecting, monitoring, and promoting human rights in the Americas. With this announcement, the IACHR renews its commitment to consult all actors in the inter-American system regarding its priorities and work programs, engage in transparent and constructive dialogue, and take into consideration the input it receives to determine its plan for the next five-year period.
The IACHR is grateful for the commitments of financial support expressed by Member States in the region. The Commission especially values and appreciates the special contributions made by Antigua and Barbuda and by Chile following the announcement about the Commission’s severe financial crisis. The IACHR also welcomes the offers of financial support made by Argentina, Canada, Colombia, the United States, Panama, and Uruguay.
The IACHR likewise thanks the States that have expressed their endorsement of the Commission in the current context of financial crisis. Specifically, it would like to underscore its appreciation to the Foreign Ministries or other Ministries of Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, and Uruguay, as well as the Meeting of High-Level Human Rights Authorities (RAADH) of MERCOSUR. In addition, the Commission appreciates the thousands of expressions of solidarity from international bodies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, and the Chairs of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies, as well as other international organizations, networks, and civil society organizations and individuals who have expressed their support to the Commission in different ways.
The Inter-American Commission especially welcomes the support demonstrated by the government of Chile during the 158th session, in which President Michelle Bachelet underscored the Commission’s historic role “in overcoming the heavy legacy of the dictatorships, pushing the need for truth and justice in the face of grave human rights violations,” and pointed to the human rights challenges that remain in the region. For his part, Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz announced the urgent allocation of funds in response to the Commission’s severe financial crisis and expressed Chile’s support for finding a sustainable solution to the problem of IACHR financing. Next week the Commission will publish a press release and report on its 158th session.
The Commission reiterates its urgent call to the States, as founders of the inter-American human rights system, to strengthen their leading role in solving the current crisis and to work together to find a structural solution to this situation. The Commission also calls on the OAS Permanent Observers to make unrestricted contributions to the Commission as one of their international cooperation priorities. All this with the aim of ensuring that this principal body of the OAS is not forced to suspend sessions or reduce its personnel by 40 percent, and that it can continue fulfilling its mandate, to the benefit of the region’s States, victims, and peoples.
A principal, autonomous body of the 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.