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Nº 3/99



1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights initiated its 102 Ordinary Sessions today. The inaugural session took place before the Permanent Council of the OAS, where its President, Ambassador Lionel Hurst, delivered the opening remarks, followed by Assistant Secretary General Christopher Thomas, and finally the retiring President of the IACHR, Prof. Carlos Ayala Corao delivered his speech. The Representative of the Dominican Republic took the floor to announce his country’s decision to accept the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

2. During its first session, the Commission elected its authorities: Prof. Robert K. Goldman, President; Dr. Hélio Bicudo, First Vice-President; Dean Claudio Grossman, Second Vice-President. The other members of the Commission are Prof. Carlos Ayala Corao, Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé, Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía and Sir Henry Forde.

3. As set forth in the Charter of the OAS, the IACHR is the principal organ charged with the mandate of monitoring the observance of human rights in every State in the American continent. It is made up of seven jurists, all of them independent experts, elected in their personal capacity by the Member States of the Organization. During the sessions, the IACHR will analyze draft reports on human rights violations in different procedural stages: admissibility, merits, friendly settlement, and submission to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The Commission shall also study the situation of human rights in various OAS Member States, and it will hold more than 40 hearings with individual petitioners and State representatives.

4. President Robert K. Goldman, a U.S. citizen, is a Professor and Louis C. James Scholar at American University’s Washington College of Law. His mandate as Commissioner began in 1996, and he has been the Rapporteur for several countries, as well as for internally displaced persons. Professor Goldman is widely known for his expertise in human rights and international humanitarian law.

5. Dr. Hélio Bicudo, First Vice-President, a Brazilian national, has been a Commissioner since 1998, where he carries out duties as the Rapporteur on several countries and was designated Rapporteur on the rights of the child, taking into account his knowledge of the matter. His work in the promotion and protection of human rights, especially in his capacity as a Congressman, was recognized when he received the National Human Rights Award in 1995.

6. Second Vice-President Claudio Grossman, a Chilean national, is the Dean of the American University’s Washington College of Law, has wide experience in the inter-American human rights system, and is the author of several publications. Dean Grossman has been a member of the Commission since 1994, and during that time he has acted as a delegate in various cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as well as an important role in the Commission’s on-site visits. He is also the Rapporteur for Women’s Rights, and a member of the working group on freedom of expression.


Washington, D.C., February 22, 1999