Nº 7/07




Washington, D.C., February 26, 2007.  Today, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights elected its officers. They are: Florentín Meléndez, President; Paolo Carozza, First Vice- President; and Víctor Abramovich, Second Vice-President. The election took place, as required by the IACHR Rules of Procedure, at the start of its 127th regular period of sessions, the first to be held in 2007. The IACHR also comprises Commissioners Clare K. Roberts, Evelio Fernández Arévalos, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, and Freddy Gutiérrez. Santiago A. Canton is the Executive Secretary.


The President of the IACHR, Dr. Florentín Meléndez, is a citizen of El Salvador, who joined the IACHR in 2004. He is the Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas and, as such, he has prepared the Draft Declaration of Principles on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty, which will be submitted for approval by the IACHR. He has also visited several countries for reasons connected with his work and research. Commissioner Meléndez has so far been IACHR Rapporteur for Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. He has also represented the IACHR on several occasions before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. His extensive academic career includes a doctorate in international human rights law and a Master’s in human rights at the Complutense University of Madrid and a Bachelor’s Degree in Law from the National University of El Salvador. Dr. Meléndez lectures and holds seminars on human rights, international law, and constitutional law and has been a guest lecturer at several universities in the Americas. In the course of his professional career, Commissioner Meléndez has worked at the United Nations and in public and private institutions in his country on human rights-related subjects. He has published books, papers, and compendia on human rights.


The First Vice President, Paolo Carozza, is a national of the United States, who has been a member of the Inter-American Commission since January 2006. He was appointed Rapporteur for Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Trinidad, as well as Special Rapporteur of the IACHR on the rights of indigenous peoples. Commissioner Carozza is an attorney who graduated at the Law Faculty of Harvard University, where he also did postgraduate studies in public international law. Prior to that, he was a scholar at the University of Cambridge. Currently, he is a Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, where he has taught numerous courses on human rights, international law, comparative law, and jurisprudence. He is also a professor of human rights in the European system, at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, in Milan, Italy. As a guest professor, he has taught seminars for Master’s Degree students at the Institute of Human Rights of the European University in Venice as well as human rights courses at the University of Trent. In addition, he has taught courses on the Philosophy of Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Milan. He has lectured at Harvard University, and at the University of Chile, where he also did research. He is the author of numerous specialized publications.


The Second Vice President, Víctor Abramovich, is from Argentina. He began his term at the IACHR in January 2006. He is the IACHR Rapporteur for Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, and also the Special Rapporteur on Women’s Rights. Commissioner Abramovich is an attorney who graduated from the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and he holds a Master’s degree in international law from the Law Faculty of American University, in Washington, D.C. He has completed numerous specialized courses in human rights and civil law in England and Spain.  Among other positions, he has been Executive Director of Argentina’s Center for Legal and Social Studies, a consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank, legal advisor to the Ombudsman’s Office of Buenos Aires, and a consultant to the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights.  He is currently a professor of human rights at the Law Faculty of the UBA and of the National University of Lanus.  He is a visiting professor at American University and at Ecuador’s “Simón Bolívar” Andean University.  Commissioner Abrámovich is the author of several specialized publications, in particular on economic, social, and cultural rights.


The IACHR is the principal organ, under the OAS Charter, responsible for promoting the observance of human rights in all states in the Hemisphere. It comprises seven jurists, who are independent experts, elected in their own individual capacity by the member states of the Organization. During the sessions, the Inter-American Commission will analyze draft reports on human rights violations at the procedural stages of admissibility, merits, and friendly settlement, as well as applications before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The IACHR will also evaluate the human rights situation in a number of member states of the OAS and will conduct 49 hearings with individual petitioners and representatives of the states.