Reform process 2012

Consultation on Module IV:
Promotion, universality and transparency


The role of the IACHR in promoting human rights in the region stems from Article 106 of the OAS Charter, according to which the principal function of the Commission is “to promote the observance and protection of human rights.“  This mandate is reflected in Article 41.a of the American Convention on Human Rights, which, in turn, is reproduced verbatim in Article 18, subarticles (a), (b), (c), and (d), of the Statute of the IACHR.

The exercise of this authority is described in the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, especially in Articles 53 to 57 (On-site observations), Chapter VI (country hearings), and Articles 59 and 60 (Annual Report and Report on Human Rights in a State).  On the basis of these provisions, the Commission carries out a number of promotion activities.

The Commission, as part of its careful and thorough consideration of its governing provisions, policies, and practices, and of an ongoing institution-wide process of reflection and improvement,  is reviewing its policies on promotion.   In order to provide the stakeholders in the inter-American human rights system with a basis for their comments, the Commission describes below its yearly activities:

  1. Fellowships program: Each year the IACHR conducts a training program for attorneys and law students of the American Hemisphere.  The program offers practical training about the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights.
    1. “Rómulo Gallegos” Fellowships: For young attorneys of OAS member states;
    2. “Notre Dame” Fellowships: In application of an agreement with the University of Notre Dame allowing a fellow to practice at the Commission for eight months;
    3. “Brian Tittemore” Fellowships: In application of an agreement with the University of Quebec allowing a fellow to practice at the Commission for 10 months; and
    4. Thematic fellowships: Training of young professionals from OAS member states, under the same arrangement as the “Rómulo Gallegos” Fellowships, in their thematic areas. 
  2. Seminars, workshops, lectures, and other training activities:  Each year the members of the Commission and its Rapporteurships, as well as staff from its Executive Secretariat participate in hundreds of training activities in the member states.  In recent years the Commission also has begun to conduct training programs for dozens of justice system operators in member states, generally at the request of their supreme courts.  The Commission also organizes:
    1. One or more yearly course sfor government agents;
    2. two yearly courses for civil society organizations and human rights defenders; and
    3. a yearly course for journalists.
  3. Internship Program: Administered jointly with the OAS Internship Program, it allows dozens of young students or recently graduated professionals from OAS member states to learn about and work at the Commission.
  4. Thematic and country hearings: All the thematic areas of the IACHR and the overall status of human rights in each member state are the subject of a hearing. 
  5. Working visits by thematic and/or country rapporteurs: Member States are visited by thematic and/or country rapporteurs, depending on the invitations issued, the consent of the States, and the Commission’s assessment of the particular situation of each member state and the needs it poses. 
  6. On-site visits: Member States are visited depending on the invitations issued, the consent of the States, and the Commission’s assessment of a given situation.  It is of particular importance that the Commission maintain the flexibility to assess the possibility of on-site visits, considering that the factors that affect the status of human rights in the States of the Hemisphere can vary.
  7. Thematic and/or country reports: Thematic reports contribute to the promotion of human rights by calling attention to topics and problems of interest, by establishing standards and issuing recommendations, and by compiling good practices.  For example, in 2011 the Commission issued 11 thematic reports.
  8. Dissemination of thematic reports: Publishing and presenting the reports, conducting seminars and press conferences, writing and publishing opinion pieces, conducting interviews, and preparing press kits.  
  9. The IACHR in the electronic media: All materials published by the IACHR are available on the Internet; the IACHR also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.
  10. Advisory services to the governing bodies of the OAS:  Collaboration with the OAS policy-making bodies, in particular the General Assembly and the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, including work on standards, monitoring, and promotion, with specific recommendations for the discussion of conventions, protocols, declarations, and resolutions.
  11. Setting standards and developing manuals, studies, and protocols
    1. Brochures and basic documents: In order to foster dissemination of the inter-American system and promote good practices, the Commission produces various publications of a general nature that are essential tools for learning about the inter-American system and how it operates (“Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System”; “information brochure on the System of Individual Petitions”).   Lastly, to provide a foundation for and best support the work of the Commission in the area of friendly settlements, a digest of precedents and best practices in this area is now being prepared.
    2. Historical archives of the IACHR: The IACHR is studying how to make more information available on its historical archives.
  12. Relations with other organs of similar nature: the IACHR holds exchanges, academic activities and study visits with organs of similar nature within the African, European, Asian and Universal context. 


Purpose of the consultation

The Commission invites all actors in the inter-American human rights system to comment, as they see fit, on the following topics:

  1. Desirable dialogue mechanisms with States and Civil Society;
  2. New strategies to promote universality of the American Convention and other Inter-American instruments for the protection of Human Rights;
  3. Ways, in addition to those already existing, to better and more broadly disseminate the promotion activities;
  4. Ways, in addition to those already existing, to promote human rights, including new methodologies to identify and share best practices;
  5. Ways to strengthen the technical capacities concerning human rights knowledge and implementation by institutions or national authorities of the Member States, including the training of officials;
  6. Mechanisms to improve the dissemination of information on the budget of the IACHR (Regular Fund and External contributions), including the sources of financing, allocations, distribution and execution.  Identification of additional information or disaggregated that may be useful to publish; and
  7. Criteria and procedures to improve the coordination of the IACHR and its Rapporteurships with the actors of the System in relation to Promotion.


Consultation Form on Module IV:
Promotion, universality and transparency

The period to send comments ended October 5, 2012.