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In Depth: OAS General Assembly



Courtesy of Prensa Presidencial.

 

The 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) is convening in Antigua, Guatemala from June 4-6, bringing hemispheric leaders together to discuss a number of issues, including a comprehensive and integrated approach to drug trafficking and violence in the Americas and the election of three members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). In a special session earlier this year, the OAS General Assembly considered a series of proposals for reforming the Inter-American Human Rights System. Read AQ's exclusive coverage of the General Assembly and previous coverage of the proposed IACHR reforms below.

On this page:


AQ's coverage of the June 4-6, 2013 OAS General Assembly in Antigua, Guatemala



Asamblea General de la OEA y reformas a la CIDH: de la reflexión a la implementación

June 14, 2013 -  By Katya Salazar - AQ Blog Post

El mensaje enviado por los Estados miembros de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) durante su 43ª Asamblea General, realizada la semana pasada en la ciudad de Antigua, Guatemala, fue claro: después de dos años de reflexión y reformas a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), es necesario pasar a la implementación de las mismas.

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OAS General Assembly: More than Just the Drug Policy Agenda

June 12, 2013 -  By Nic Wirtz - AQ Blog Post

When the 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) released its final resolution on June 7, those waiting for a brave new direction on the war of drugs were likely disappointed.

For all the rhetoric of breaking taboos, decriminalization—at least of marijuana—proved to be a step too far for some participants. The writing was on the wall when the OAS failed to ratify a report they commissioned from a group of experts titled The Drug Problem in the Americas,” which suggested that “the decriminalization of drug use should be considered on the basis of any public health strategy.”

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OAS General Assembly: Brazilian, Mexican and U.S. Candidates Elected to IACHR

June 7, 2013 -  By Nic Wirtz - AQ Blog Post

Representatives from Brazil, Mexico and the United States will join the four existing members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), following their election Thursday during the 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Dr. José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez of Mexico was re-elected in the first round of voting with 22 votes, and will be joined by Stanford law professor and U.S. candidate James L. Cavallaro, who won 20 votes.  Cavallaro will serve for four years before being eligible to seek a one-off re-election.

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OAS General Assembly To Elect Three New IACHR Members

June 6, 2013 -  AQ Online

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) comes to a close today in Antigua, Guatemala, with a vote for three new members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) scheduled for this afternoon.  The elections, which will take place during the 3:00 p.m. (CST)/5:00 p.m. (EDT) plenary session, will replace three of the seven commission members from a pool of six candidates—each representing a different member nation.

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The Drug Debate at the OAS General Assembly

June 4, 2013 -  By Nic Wirtz - AQ Blog Post

The 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States opened on Tuesday in Antigua, Guatemala, with the aim of producing “a comprehensive policy against the world drug problem in the Americas."

Guatemala has been at the vanguard of new thinking on the drug trade partly because it has few alternatives. The country is blighted by drug violence and losing control of its territory to organized criminal gangs that control drug shipping to North America and Europe. At the same time, its dangerously weak judicial infrastructure is powerless to stop them.

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Three-Day OAS General Assembly Begins in Guatemala

June 4, 2013 -  AQ Online

Heads of state and foreign ministers from across the Western Hemisphere arrive in Antigua, Guatemala, today for the 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). The three-day meeting will begin with an inaugural session at 6:00 pm (local time) this evening. The primary focus of the Assembly, as noted in the draft declaration, is to discuss effective solutions to the world drug problem and ways to devise a comprehensive and integrated approach to tackle this issue in the Americas.

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Interview with James Cavallaro, Candidate to the IACHR

May 13, 2013 -  By Andreina Seijas - AQ Web Exclusive

Three new members will be elected to serve on the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) during the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) that will be held this June in Antigua, Guatemala. AQ interviewed James Cavallaro, professor of law  and founder and director of Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, who is the U.S. candidate for the IACHR. The other six nominees are José de Jesús Orozco (México), Rodrigo Escobar Gil (Colombia), Javier de Belaúnde López de Romaña (Peru), Paulo Vannuchi (Brazil), and Erick Roberts Garcés (Ecuador).

Read more...


Latest Coverage of the IACHR Reform Process


Fracaso de Venezuela y Ecuador en su embestida contra la CIDH

June 7, 2013 -  By Silvia Pisani - La Nación

Antigua,  Guatemala.- Por segunda vez en tres meses, Venezuela y Ecuador fracasaron en su intento por doblegar a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) y no pudieron imponerle autoridades, pese a la intensa campaña que habían emprendido para eso.

Durante el plenario de cancilleres de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA), y por apenas un voto, quedó afuera el candidato que había impulsado el presidente ecuatoriano, Rafael Correa, para ocupar el puesto clave de comisionado y así acceder al control de su agenda. En su lugar fue elegido el brasileño Paulo Vannuchi. También fueron nombrados el mexicano José de Jesús Orozco y el estadounidense James Cavallaro.

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American human rights advocate seeks IACHR seat to push Caribbean interest

June 6, 2013 -  By Vernon Davidson - Jamaica Observer

People who know Professor James Cavallaro are not surprised that he's a candidate for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). After all, Cavallaro, an American, has spent all of his adult life as a human rights advocate — from his days as a 21-year-old college graduate working with refugees at the US/Mexico border, to challenging abuses by the cruel Pinochet Government in Chile, to his active defence of rights issues in other countries in Central and South America that have made him one of the most sought-after experts in his field.

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Las visitas de Patiño a 15 países lucen insuficientes para las reformas a la CiDH

June 5, 2013 -  By Nancy Verdezoto - El Comercio

En lo que va del 2013, el canciller Ricardo Patiño ha realizado 15 visitas a los paises del continente, [ara conseguir apoyo a las propuestas de reformas al Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos (SIDH), que impulsa Ecuador. A pesar de esa intensa agenda, Ecuador no ha conseguido suamr voces que respalden su posición radical frente al Sistema Interamericano.

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El candidato de Ecuador para la CIDH: La otra vía del debilitamiento de la Comisión

June 4, 2013 -  By Nelson Camilo Sánchez - AQ Blog Post

El control de la función pública es una tarea molesta, pero necesaria en toda democracia. Muchos gobiernos que han discrepado de las decisiones de órganos de control han encontrado dos maneras para eliminar dicho control. Una de ellas es oponerse públicamente a las decisiones o incluso alterar las competencias del órgano que las emite. La otra es tomarse el órgano, garantizando que quienes lo integren decidan en favor a sus intereses, o que sean tan incompetentes que el órgano o tribunal pierda cualquier relevancia.

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Las visitas de Patiño a 15 países lucen insuficientes para las reformas a la CIDH Tiempo de lectura: 4' 56'' No. de palabras: 804 Nancy Verdezoto F.  Redactora Miércoles 05/06/2013 En lo que va del 2013, el canciller Ricardo Patiño ha realizado 15 visitas a los países del continente, para conseguir apoyo a las propuestas de reformas al Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos (SIDH), que impulsa el Ecuador. A pesar de esa intensa agenda internacional, Ecuador no ha conseguido sumar voces que respalden su posición radical frente al Sistema Interamericano. Incluso, esto no ha sido bien visto entre algunas naciones, que miran con dudas el interés del país detrás de las propuestas de "fortalecimiento".

Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por Diario EL COMERCIO en la siguiente dirección: http://www.elcomercio.com/politica/Patino-giras-visitas-Latinoamerica-reformas-SIDH-CIDH-cambios-Insulza-OEA-Guatemala_0_932306826.html. Si está pensando en hacer uso del mismo, por favor, cite la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido. ElComercio.com

Ultimos intentos de Patino por cambiar a la CIDH

June 4, 2013 -  By Nancy Verdezoto - El Comercio

A pesar de las visitas que el canciller Ricardo Patiño ha realizado a distintos países del continente, no ha logrado conseguir el apoyo de los gobiernos para implementar las reformas que busca al Sistema Interamericano de DD.HH. En la Asamblea General de la Organización de Estados Americanos, que se desarrolla a partir de hoy en Guatemala, el interés está por otro tema: el debate sobre el problema de las drogas.

Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por Diario EL COMERCIO en la siguiente dirección: http://www.elcomercio.com/politica/Patino-sede-CIDH-SIDH-cambios-OEA-ALBA-ErickRoberts_0_931706853.html. Si está pensando en hacer uso del mismo, por favor, cite la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido. ElComercio.com

A pesar de las visitas que el canciller Ricardo Patino ha realizado a distintos países del continente, no ha logrado conseguir el apoyo de los gobiernos para implementar las reformas que busca al Sistema Interamericano de DD.HH.

A pesar de las visitas que el canciller Ricardo Patiño ha realizado a distintos países del continente, no ha logrado conseguir el apoyo de los gobiernos para implementar las reformas que busca al Sistema Interamericano de DD.HH. En la Asamblea General de la Organización de Estados Americanos, que se desarrolla a partir de hoy en Guatemala, el interés está por otro tema: el debate sobre el problema de las drogas.

Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por Diario EL COMERCIO en la siguiente dirección: http://www.elcomercio.com/politica/Patino-sede-CIDH-SIDH-cambios-OEA-ALBA-ErickRoberts_0_931706853.html. Si está pensando en hacer uso del mismo, por favor, cite la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido. ElComercio.com
A pesar de las visitas que el canciller Ricardo Patiño ha realizado a distintos países del continente, no ha logrado conseguir el apoyo de los gobiernos para implementar las reformas que busca al Sistema Interamericano de DD.HH. En la Asamblea General de la Organización de Estados Americanos, que se desarrolla a partir de hoy en Guatemala, el interés está por otro tema: el debate sobre el problema de las drogas.

Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por Diario EL COMERCIO en la siguiente dirección: http://www.elcomercio.com/politica/Patino-sede-CIDH-SIDH-cambios-OEA-ALBA-ErickRoberts_0_931706853.html. Si está pensando en hacer uso del mismo, por favor, cite la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido. ElComercio.com

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Ecuador insistirá en reformas a la CIDH

May 30, 2013 -  By Rocio Higuera - Blog Periodismo en las Américas

El gobierno de Ecuador mantiene su interés en que la Organización de Estados Americanos, OEA, acepte sus propuestas de reformas al Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos, SIDH, y a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, CIDH, según informó el diario La Hora. El canciller de Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño, señaló que llevará este debate a la Asamblea General de Cancilleres de la OEA que tendrá lugar el próximo 5 y 6 de junio en Guatemala.

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El balance político de la reforma al sistema de derechos humanos de la OEA

April 1, 2013 -  By Nelson Camilo Sánchez - AQ Web Exclusive

“Pese a casi dos años de reflexión y discusión, los países de la región llegaron sin un acuerdo a la Asamblea General de la OEA convocada para definir el futuro de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH)”. Así encabezaron distintos medios de comunicación su cubrimiento de la maratónica reunión de cancilleres realizada el 22 de marzo en Washington DC. Esta presentación, sin embargo, no captura del todo su compleja realidad. En primer lugar, si bien es cierto que no existía acuerdo total en todos los países, es innegable que existía una inmensa mayoría que consideraba que la CIDH había respondido satisfactoriamente sus dudas y que, por tanto, querían dar por terminado este largo proceso.
 
 

Día clave para la libertad de expresión en cita de la OEA

March 21, 2013 -  By Ricardo Uceda- La Republica

Luego de una tediosa discusión, el Consejo Permanente de la OEA no pudo llegar a una posición de consenso sobre las reformas al sistema interamericano de derechos humanos a ser propuestas a la Asamblea General de mañana viernes 22 en Washington. Ecuador, con el apoyo de Venezuela y Bolivia y, con menor énfasis, por Nicaragua, bloqueó el acuerdo. Los países del ALBA prefieren que una negociación entre cancilleres en la asamblea –en el Consejo Permanente actúan embajadores– produzca una resolución que debilite lo más posible a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH). Más precisamente, a la Relatoría de Libertad de Expresión, que depende de la CIDH.

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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights must be protected

March 19, 2013 -  Op-Ed - The Miami Herald

By William Burns

When Maria da Penha’s husband shot her in the back, leaving her paraplegic, it was the culmination of years of domestic abuse. In her battle for justice, she was fortunate to have an ally in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a respected independent body, established in 1959 to protect the rights of all individuals throughout the Americas.

Following the commission’s inquiry into her case, the Brazilian government took decisive steps — Maria’s ex-husband went to jail, and in 2006 Brazil adopted landmark legislation on violence against women.

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Muzzling a Free Speech Champion

March 19, 2013 -  Op-Ed - Washington Post

César Gaviria Trujillo is a former president of Colombia and past secretary general of the Organization of American States.

A historic showdown set to occur at Friday’s meeting of the general assembly of the Organization of American States could determine the future of human rights protections throughout the Western Hemisphere.

A group of nations led by Ecuador is pushing to “reform” the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its office on freedom of expression. The purported aim of these changes is to “strengthen” human rights protections. If implemented, however, the reforms will severely weaken the commission and make it easier for governments to ignore basic rights and limit free speech.

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CPJ urges OAS not to weaken human rights system

March 18, 2013 -  Letter - Committee to Protect Journalists

Dear OAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs:

Ahead of the assembly of the Organization of American States on March 22, the Committee to Protect Journalists urges you to oppose any attempts to debilitate the regional human rights system. The failure of member states to preserve the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its special rapporteur on freedom of expression would make citizens throughout the hemisphere more vulnerable to human rights violations and represent a blow to democracy in the Americas.

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La CIDH en peligro

March 17, 2013 -  Editorial - El Nacional

La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos de la Organización de los Estados Americanos, creada para proteger a los ciudadanos de los abusos de sus gobiernos, debe mirar con profunda aprensión la próxima reunión de la Asamblea General de este organismo ante la eventualidad de que ella acuerde cercenamientos sustanciales a sus atribuciones, reduciéndola a una instancia sin alcances reales.

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La última voluntad de Chávez en la OEA

March 16, 2013 -  AP/AFP - Semana

Este viernes a la Asamblea General de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) en Washington llegará un intenso debate liderado por los países del Alba y Unasur, que los tiene enfrentados con las más influyentes organizaciones que defienden la libertad de prensa y expresión en el continente.

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Debilitamiento de la CIDH

March 15, 2013 -  Editorial - La Tercera

El próximo 22 de marzo, en una sesión extraordinaria de la Asamblea General de la OEA, los representantes de los estados se pronunciarán sobre las reformas que se discuten bajo el eufemístico nombre de “proceso de fortalecimiento del sistema interamericano de protección de derechos humanos”.

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Perú apoyó propuesta de Ecuador que debilita la libertad de expresión

March 15, 2013 - By Cecilia Rosales Ferreyros - El Comercio

El lunes, en Guayaquil, el gobierno de Rafael Correa avanzó –con el apoyo del Perú– en dos de los objetivos que se ha planteado con respecto al sistema interamericano de derechos humanos.

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Brasil tira força de bolivarianos em reforma da OEA

March 15, 2013 - By Denise Chrispim Marin - O Estado de São Paulo

O destino da Comissão Interamericana de Direitos Humanos (CIDH) será decidido hoje com a conclusão da proposta de reforma da instituição por grupo de trabalho da Organização dos Estados Americanos (OEA). A criação desse grupo, na quarta-feira, foi uma manobra para driblar os países bolivarianos, ansiosos por limitar o alcance da CIDH, ainda ameaçada de asfixia financeira e de se ver obrigada a dispersar-se do foco original.

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Sinal de sensatez na diplomacia

March 15, 2013 - Editorial - O Globo

O início de governo de Dilma Rousseff criou expectativas positivas de um ajuste na política externa, para realinhá-la às melhores tradições profissionais do Itamaraty. Depois dos oitos anos de Lula, durante os quais se forjou a “diplomacia companheira”, impregnada de um terceiro-mundismo trazido do século passado, os primeiros movimentos de Dilma pareciam sensatos.

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Advertencia por la CIDH

March 15, 2013 - Editorial - La Nación

En una actitud que cabe calificar de valiente e inusual, un grupo de más de 130 distinguidos catedráticos de derecho y relaciones internacionales de toda América latina acaba de formular públicamente una gravísima advertencia que no debería ser desoída. Está referida a la peligrosa reunión especial de cancilleres que la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA) celebrará el 22 de marzo próximo para debatir un presunto plan de "fortalecimiento" de los organismos regionales encargados de la defensa de los derechos humanos, que ciertamente no es tal, sino todo lo contrario.

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Defender la Sociedad

March 12, 2013 - Editorial -  El Espectador

El presidente Juan Manuel Santos dijo no hace poco que la libertad de expresión es “una de las libertades más importantes para el sostenimiento de una sociedad democrática”. Tiene razón el presidente en su lógica discursiva. Es por eso que los esfuerzos de la diplomacia colombiana deberían estar encaminados a defender, de manera inequívoca, la labor de la Relatoría Especial para la Libertad de Expresión, que algunos países del hemisferio quieren limitar, dejándola en nada, cuando ha hecho una labor necesaria y prominente dentro de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), de la que hace parte.

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LatAm Assesses Reforms to Inter-American Commission

March 11, 2013 - By Geoffrey Ramsey - The Pan-American Post

At a meeting today in Guayaquil, Ecuador, representatives of the region are studying reforms to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) proposed by the Ecuadorean government, which many see as an attempt to weaken the body’s independence.

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La reforma de la CIDH en tiempos de funerales

March 11, 2013 - By Nelson Camilo Sánchez - AQ Blog Post

A pocos días del 22 de marzo, fecha en que se realizará la Asamblea General de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) en donde se definirá el futuro de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), las apuestas están más altas que nunca.  Los países de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA), encabezados por Ecuador y Venezuela, están en una campaña de último minuto que les garantice el apoyo político para inutilizar el único órgano de la OEA con alguna relevancia para la protección del estado de derecho en las Américas.

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AQ Q&A: José Miguel Vivanco and Gustavo Mohme on IACHR Reform

March 7, 2013 - By Leani García - AQ Web Exclusive

José Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director of Human Rights Watch, and Gustavo Mohme, director of Peruvian newspaper La República, speak with Americas Quarterly about the risks of the proposed reform to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States. They explore the potential consequences and describe why it is important for all states to protect the IACHR and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

Watch the videos (in Spanish)  here...


Preocupa destino de casos si se dan cambios en CIDH

March 7, 2013 - El Universo, Ecuador

En contra del Estado ecuatoriano se tramitan en la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) varias solicitudes de medidas cautelares, recurso que el régimen de Rafael Correa cuestiona como parte de las facultades de ese organismo autónomo de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA).

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Debate sobre la CIDH quedó para el lunes 11

March 7, 2013 - By Nancy Verdezoto F. (AGENCIA EFE) - El Comercio, Ecuador

A pesar de que la cita de los cancilleres de los países miembros del Pacto de San José se había suspendido por el fallecimiento del presidente Hugo Chávez, ayer la Cancillería informó la nueva fecha para la cita. El lunes, a las 10:00, será en Guayaquil el encuentro en el cual se debatirán las reformas al Sistema Interamericano de DD.HH.

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Brasil será decisivo en la reforma de la CIDH

March 6, 2013 - By Nancy Verdezoto F. -  El Comercio, Ecuador

El futuro de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) parece estar en manos de del Gobierno de Brasil. Esa nación tiene un peso muy importante en el hemisferio americano. No solo por su extensión geográfica, sino también por su fortaleza política y económica. Brasil fue el promotor de la creación de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (Unasur) y es el centro del Mercado Común del Sur (Mercosur).

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El futuro de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) parece estar en manos de del Gobierno de Brasil. Esa nación tiene un peso muy importante en el hemisferio americano. No solo por su extensión geográfica, sino también por su fortaleza política y económica. Brasil fue el promotor de la creación de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (Unasur) y es el centro del Mercado Común del Sur (Mercosur).

Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por Diario EL COMERCIO en la siguiente dirección: http://www.elcomercio.com/politica/Derechos_Humanos-CIDH-Brasil-Mercosur_0_877712306.html. Si está pensando en hacer uso del mismo, por favor, cite la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido. ElComercio.com

IACHR's Mandate Under Fire

March 4, 2013 - By Marc Gorrie - Foreign Policy Association

In an upcoming meeting in Washington, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) will consider a proposal that would greatly diminish the ability of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to address human rights violations in the region.

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The End of a Human Rights Heavyweight?

March 3, 2013 - By Jackson Diehl - The Washington Post

How are liberal institutions destroyed? These days, no military coup is necessary. Instead, cynical and determined rulers aim to corrupt rather than abolish independent courts, legislatures and media — and their defenders are too divided, too weak or too distracted to respond effectively.

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The IACHR Loses an Advocate

February 28, 2013 - By Javier El-Hage and Thor Halvorssen - AQ Web Exclusive

Last week, Ambassador Guillermo Cochez permanently left his post as Panama’s permanent representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) after Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli ordered him to step down on January 17 for criticizing the delayed inauguration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. His voice will be missed in the ongoing debate for change at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

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Inquietud por el futuro de la CIDH

February 26, 2013 - La Nación, Argentina

WASHINGTON.- La anunciada reforma de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) y de su Relatoría Especial para la Libertad de Expresión se recalienta y genera inquietud de cara a su inminente debate institucional. Editores de los principales medios de América Latina y entidades defensoras de los derechos humanos se reunieron ayer en esta ciudad, en la sede del Consejo para las Américas para plantear el riesgo de un retroceso en la independencia y fortaleza institucional de la reconocida entidad.

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México propondrá ante OEA más financiamiento al SIDH

February 26, 2013 - By J. Jaime hernández - El Universal, México

México propondrá aumentar el financiamiento del Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos (SIDH) para robustecer la labor de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) y la Relatoría Especial para la Libertad de Expresión.

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The Future of the Inter-American Human Rights System

February 21, 2013 - By Nelson Camilo Sánchez - AQ Web Exclusive

Neither uncertainty about the continuity of chavismo in Venezuela nor the campaign of newly re-elected Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa have distracted the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) countries in their crusade against the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Just over a year ago, they launched a campaign to weaken the powers of the IACHR, the organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) responsible for tracking and verifying the human rights situation in countries throughout the hemisphere.

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Human Rights Under Siege in the Americas

February 12, 2013 - By Carlos Lauría - AQ Web Exclusive

For more than 50 years, the human rights system of the Organization of American States (OAS) has served as the last line of defense for citizens facing abusive treatment throughout the hemisphere. It has mediated directly in cases of imminent risk and issued thorough reports that shine light on systemic human rights abuses. Perceived as an international model, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its special rapporteur on freedom of expression have upheld core democratic principles of due process, separation of powers and freedom of expression.

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Human Rights: New Threats in the Hemisphere

Fall 2012 - By Rodrigo Uprimny and Nelson Camilo Sánchez - AQ Fall 2012

In her novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Álvarez describes an international mission to visit the Mirabal sisters when two of the four women were in jail for opposing the Rafael Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. Three of the sisters were later assassinated on November 25, 1960—a date later designated by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

That mission was an historic landmark in the Americas: the first on-site visit carried out by what became the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

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Coverage of the March 22, 2013 OAS General Assembly


Over...for now.

Into the late hours of March 22, the General Assembly had still not reached a resolution, though not for lack of proposals. Earlier in the evening, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela proposed two new amendments to the draft document—one specifically listing the items to be debated further, and one proposing the relocation of IACHR headquarters to outside the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Canada expressed their frustration with the constant renegotiations over the language of the draft resolutions, moving for a vote.

"We are disappointed by the prospect that we'll be renegotiating this document in plenary after so much work over the past 22 months on the issue," said U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Carmen Lomellin. Canadian Ambassador Allan Culham first called for the vote: "The language on [the document] should be unamended. We felt we had a good compromise agreement earlier this week and we compromised here again...I propose we take it to a vote as soon as possible."

Nicaragua and Ecuador were not about to let that happen. "Incredibly, there's an opposition here to continuing the dialogue," said Nicaraguan Ambassador Denis Ronaldo Moncada. Ecuador's Ricardo Patiño observed that nine OAS member states had supported the idea of moving the headquarters of the IACHR elsewhere. Noting that the U.S. has not ratified the American Convention, he remarked on the U.S. military's use of unmanned drones and military black sites: "they're murdering people in other countries. When are they going to appear to execute people in our countries?"

As countries lined up to express their opinions, it seemed that a consensus was nowhere in sight. Argentina eventually propsed a compromise in the language of the contentious second paragraph of the draft document that emphasized that the Commission would continue the dialogue on reforms brought up in the past month and during the General Assembly that very day, without specifying exactly what they would be.

At the beginning of the day, Katya Salazar of the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) had predicted what might happen if the debate reached this point. "I think there will be a little of everything, strong opinions, pointed criticisms, but I think at the end of it, they won't be able to approve any decision that harms the Commission because the OAS is composed of 34 states, and not just the four that are obstacles to resolution," she said. "This doesn't mean that things will just die down. I think they're going to look for other ways to get in the way of the Commission's work." 

Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), said in a statement after the vote that that the reform process has not strengthened the Inter-American System nor encouraged governments to pledge the additional $10 million dollars the IACHR needs to function effectively but added, "we trust that the Commission can now return to its mandate of protecting fundamental rights."


Waiting for a Resolution

It is still unclear what the result of the General Assembly will be. This afternoon, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela achieved a key concession in a new draft resolution, which incorporates an additional requirement that the Permanent Council of the OAS continue the dialogue on the "fundamental aspects for strengthening the Inter-American System of Human Rights," based on the observations of member states. In any event, any expectation that debate on the reforms would reach a conclusion quickly today seems to have been thwarted in the last round of comments before the assembly.

"We came into the meeting thinking that there was a real danger that some states would push for a follow-up mechanism for the current debates at the OAS," said Viviana Krsticevic of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). "In the morning, it seemed those fears were could be unfounded, but as the day has progressed, a large number of countries has tried to take into account some of the suggestions Nicaragua, Ecuador, Venezuea and Bolivia, and they’re trying to find a negotiated solution that would probably mean that this process would stay open."

Krsticevic said that a lot of changes will still have to occur before the commission is able to implement the proposed reforms, as well as further debate about the role of the states and the role of the commission.

"What we believe is truly damaging is not to have an intellectual, open political debate, but to keep a structured process at the OAS where you can have a continuous meddling by a group of countries in the everday workings of the commission," Krsticevic said.

"We believe that when the states made a set of points for the commission, that the points were well-taken and the commission incorporated many of the requests of the states this year. And now it’s time to give the commission some breathing space, so the commission can implement those new norms and practices so that we can all...evaluate whether, as a result of those changes, there is a more effective system for the protection of human rights victims." 


Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela Move to Prolong IACHR Debate

Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, surpised no one when he proposed that the General Assembly continue to debate reforms to the Inter-American Human Rights System at the 43rd regular session of the OAS General Assembly in Guatemala in June. After a nearly 30-minute address, Patiño blasted critics of the reforms that Ecuador and a number of allied countries have suggested to restrict the funding sources of the IACHR and IACtHR—which includes phasing out external funding sources for the bodies and ending earmarks, the majority of which fund the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression. Ecuador says that the rapporteurship receives disproportionate funding compared to other rapporteurships established to protect Indigenous rights, women's rights, and economic, social and cultural rights, among others. "Why do all these other rapporteurships exist?" Patiño asked the assembly. "They have no importance whatsoever to the commission." Patiño also took issue with the current location of the IACHR, which is headquartered in Washington DC despite the fact that the U.S. has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights. "That makes as little sense as headquartering NATO in Quito," he said.

Patiño had much more to say, but he was eventually forced to cede the microphone. In closing, he announced a resolution by Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela to continue the debate at the next General Assembly in Guatemala.

Uruguay's Milton Romani also emotionally addressed the assembly, urging members to view the debate from the perspective of the victims of human rights abuses. Romani, who said that he was a victim of human rights abuses in 1978 in Argentina, argued that the family members of the disappeared would not have had recourse to investigate their loved ones' disappearances without the "important role" played by the IACHR and IACtHR, and said that it was a "fundamental error" to characterize the commission as a imperialist tool. 

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns noted that the IACHR is already implementing reforms that respond directly to recommendations from member states. "We must be vigilant against efforts of some to weaken the Commission under the guise of reform," Burns said. "That agenda is clear: to undermine the Commission's ability to hold governments accountable when they erode democratic checks and balances and concentrate power through illiberal manipulation of democratic practices."

Closing out the morning's comments, Venezuela's ambassador, Roy Chaderton, said that the IACHR had gone from defending victims of torture to protecting "terrorists and coup leaders," and criticized the commission for inaction during the Caracazo, when massive protests in 1989 lead to the deaths of hundreds of Venezuelan protesters. He also criticized a chapter in the Annual Report of the IACHR in which Venezuela is frequently listed as one of the worst violators of human rights in the region. "This is the country with the greatest advancement of human rights in the twenty-first century," he said. "Spring is coming to the OAS."


Human Rights Groups Emphasize Preoccupation with IACHR Reforms

In a press conference this morning, the Coalición Internacional de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos en las Américas (International Coalition of Human Rights Organizations in the Americas) expressed its disappointment with the reforms proposed by member states that say they are seeking to "stengthen" the Inter-American Human Rights System. Honduran judge Tirza Flores Lanza, a member of the Association of Judges for Democracy in Honduras (AJD) read a statement by the coaltion criticizing the reform process. The IACHR has already implemented a number of recommendations first proposed in 2011, but according to the statement by the coalition, the process "has not achieved a real strengthening of the Inter-American system" because it has not improved states' compliance with decisions emitted by the IACHR and IACtHR, nor has it improved human rights victims' access to the system or accelerated the time it takes for them to receive a response. 

A major concern of the coalition is the future financing of the Inter-American Human Rights System, which is now only partially funded by the OAS regular budget. According to the coalition, "this process has not resulted in an increase of funds for the commission and the court. To the contrary, the OAS only provides 55 percent of the IACHR's budget, and furthermore, various states want to limit its capacity to receive external funds." A document by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) reported that only seven OAS member countries funded the IACHR in 2011, and only four member countries funded the IACtHR—which, according to CEJIL, is the most financially precarious international tribunal in the world. 

Flores Lanza, who said that she and three other judges were arbitrarily dismissed from their jobs after Honduras' 2009 coup, has a case currently pending before the IACHR. "We hope that the result today strengthens the system...that, above all, that they keep in mind that the most important in this discussion should be the protection of the victims." Once her case before the IACHR is processed, Flores Lanza said she hoped that the commission's response would ultimately strengthen Honduras' justice system. 
 
"For many of us, the Inter-American system is the last opportunity for justice that we have," Flores Lanza said. "I think we have to keep using the system, even when we in civil society think that the reforms make access more difficult in some aspects. We'll continue using the system, and we'll continue defending it, because it's all we have." 

OAS General Assembly Extraordinary Session Set to Begin

Delegations from the 34 member states of the OAS will gather in the Americas Salon at 11 am this morning—along with members of the Inter-American Human Rights System, OAS permanent observers representing 68 countries outside the Americas, and international organizations and human rights groups—to debate the proposed reforms to the Inter-American Human Rights System in a special session of the OAS General Assembly.

These reforms have been harshly criticized by human rights groups, including the Coalición Internacional de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos en las Américas (International Coalition of Human Rights Organizations in the Americas), which says that new requirements that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) be funded primarily with non-earmarked contributions from the OAS' regular budget will cut off important funding sources for the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The Coalición will be holding a press conference at 10 am to voice their preoccupation with the reform process and the 53 reform recommendations that were led by Ecuador and a group of other states in 2012.

View the final report containing the proposed reforms here, and check back for comments and quotes from the press conference.

The extraordinary session will be webcast here


AQ-AS/COA Convenes Meeting with Human Rights Leaders


Speakers:

  • Joel Hernández García, Ambassador, OAS Permanent Representative of Mexico
  • Walter Albán Peralta, Ambassador, OAS Permanent Representative of Peru
  • Darío Paya, Ambassador, OAS Permanent Representative of Chile
  • Breno Dias da Costa, Interim Representative of Brazil
  • Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief, Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy Americas Society and Council of the Americas (moderator)

Summary

Fifty-three years after its creation, the future of the region’s independent observer and protector of human rights may be at risk. On March 22, 2013, the General Assembly (GA) of the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold a special session in which it will consider a series of proposals for reforming the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). AS/COA convened a select group of ambassadors to the OAS, journalists, human rights activists, and experts from throughout the Americas to discuss the reforms’ implications for the inter-American system.

Read the full summary and watch a video of the February 25 meeting.




Key Dates in the Reform Process


 

Date

Event

June 3-4, 2012

Forty-Second General Assembly meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia. A bloc of states led by the Ecuadorian delegation won approval to submit the proposed overhaul of the IACHR’s monitoring and enforcement powers to the General Assembly for consideration.

February 25, 2013

 

Americas Quarterly and AS/COA convened a group of OAS Ambassadors, human rights activists and journalists in Washington DC to discuss the implications of the proposed reforms.

March 11, 2013

Meeting of the Signatories of the Inter-American Convention in Guayaquil, Ecuador .

March 22, 2013

OAS Extraordinary Session to vote on the proposed reforms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Other Sources on the IACHR and Human Rights



 


 
 

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