N° 02/05



The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) began its 122d regular session.  Pursuant to its Rules of Procedure, this being its first session in 2005, the IACHR elected its officers, as follows:  Clare K. Roberts, President; Susana Villarán, First Vice President; and Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Second Vice President.  The following are also commissioners of the IACHR: José Zalaquett, Evelio Fernández Arévalos, Freddy Gutiérrez, and Florentín Meléndez.  The Executive Secretary of the IACHR is Dr. Santiago A. Canton.


          President Clare K. Roberts, a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, has been a Member of the IACHR since 2002 and was elected to its board of officers that year.  The intense activities carried out by Commissioner Roberts includes participation in several on site visits to Haiti and other countries of the region.  Before joining the IACHR, his juridical career has included appointment to several important posts in his country, such as Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs between 1994 and 1997.  He has been an international legal consultant for several public and private organizations, and he is also a Member of the International Bar Association and the Inter-American Bar Association, as well as an Associate Member of the American Bar Association.


          First Vice-President Susana Villarán, from Peru, is a specialist in education and journalism, who joined the Inter-American Commission in 2002.  That year she was appointed Special Rapporteur for the Rights of the Child, duty she performed until 2004, when she was appointed Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Women. Commissioner Villarán was previously the Minister for Women and Human Development in Peru’s transitional government (2000-2001).  Among the many positions of responsibility held by Dr. Villarán in the course of her career, she has been Executive Secretary of the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos del Perú, Member of the Commission for the Reorganization and Modernization of Peru’s Police, and that country’s first Police Ombudsman.  She is also a member of Women for Democracy and various other civil society organizations concerned with women’s and children’s affairs.


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Second Vice-President Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro is from Brazil, and a member of the IACHR since 2004.  Among his duties in the Inter-American Commission, he is the Special Rapporteur for the Rights of the Child, duty assigned to him when he joined this organ.  Commissioner Pinheiro is also the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Myanmar; was appointed Independent Expert by the U.N. Secretary general to prepare a study on the matter of violence against children; and was also a member of the U.N. Subcommittee for the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as several missions and investigations carried out in previous years for that Organization.  Previously, he was Brazil’s Secretary of State for Human Rights, and his academic activity includes teaching in several universities of his own country, of the United States, the United Kingdom and France.



The IACHR is the principal organ under the Charter of the OAS, with responsibility for ensuring respect for human rights in all states of the American continent. It is comprised of seven independent human rights experts, who are elected in their individual capacities by the member states of the Organization.  During its period of sessions, the Commission will consider draft reports on human rights violations in the procedural stages of admissibility, merits, friendly settlement, and complaints filed with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  The IACHR will also review human rights situations in various member states of the OAS and will hold 44 hearings with individual petitioners and state representatives.


Washington, D. C., February 23, 2005