Nļ 21/04



The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), based upon a study undertaken on the subject, considers that the new structure designed by the OAS General Secretariat affects its independence and autonomy.


            In accordance with Article 53 of the Charter of the OAS, the IACHR and the Secretary General are two principal and separate organs of the OAS through which the Organization accomplishes its purposes. The remaining norms relating to the IACHR, as well as the practice on this matter, establish a regime of independence and autonomy for the IACHR that has been consistently respected to the present time and has been essential in order for the Commission to exercise its functions adequately.


            The Inter-American Commission is a technical organ comprised of independent experts who cannot be subjected, directly or indirectly, to a department, unit of political official of the OAS, all of which would affect the Commissionís independence. The longstanding experience of the Commission has confirmed that that only manner in which it can comply satisfactorily with its duties and functions is to operate without interference from States or the political functionaries of the Organization, who perform functions of high importance but which are naturally distinct from those of the Commission.


            In addition to its complete independence, the IACHR relies upon autonomy that is demonstrated in the management of its human and budgetary resources. Nonetheless, the new structure designed for the General Secretariat modifies entirely the present situation relating to these matters.


            The Inter-American Commission reiterates its full institutional respect for the Secretary General and his statutory attributes. At the same time, the interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights, together with pertinent norms and practice in the area, cannot be affected in a manner that undermines, directly or indirectly, the independence or autonomy of the IACHR. This implies, among other factors, that the IACHR cannot be placed under the political hierarchy of the Secretary General, nor can the Commissionís present situation concerning the management of its human and budgetary resources be modified.


            The opinion of the Commission, in its role as a consultative organ of the OAS in the area of human rights contemplated by Article 106 of the OAS Charter, is that the existence of the Department of Human Rights Affairs and the functions of the Director of that Department affect the independence and autonomy of the IACHR.


            The Commissionís concerns have been transmitted personally to the Interim Secretary General, Mr. Luigi R. Einaudi.


            The Commission considers that the solution in the above context involves, in addition to preserving the present independence and autonomy of the IACHR, the normative ratification of such matters through modification of the Commissionís Statute by the General Assembly.



Washington D.C. October 21, 2004