N° 6/08



Washington, March 3, 2008 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today elected its new officers by unanimous vote. The board of officers is composed of Paolo Carozza, Chairman; Luz Patricia Mejía, First Vice-Chair; and Felipe González, Second Vice-Chair. The election was held, in accordance with the IACHR rules of procedure, at the beginning of the Commission’s 131st regular period of sessions, the first for this year. Elections for officers take place annually. The other members of the IACHR are Commissioners Florentín Meléndez, Víctor Abramovich, Clare K. Roberts and Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro. The Executive Secretary is Dr. Santiago A. Canton.


The Chairman of the IACHR, Paolo Carozza, is a citizen of the United States, who began his term on the IACHR in January 2006. Commissioner Carozza is an attorney who graduated from Harvard Law School, where he also was a postgraduate fellow in Public International Law. Prior to that, he attended Cambridge University on a fellowship. He is currently Associate 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 also teaches courses on European human rights law at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, and is a Visiting Professor at Harvard University. He has taught master’s seminars at the European Inter-University Institute for Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice and courses on human rights at the University of Trento in Italy. He has also taught courses on philosophy of law at the University of Milan Faculty of Law, was a visiting researcher and lecturer at the University of Chile, and is the author of numerous publications. In 2007, Commissioner Carozza served as First Vice-Chairman of the IACHR.


First Vice-Chair Luz Patricia Mejía is a citizen of Venezuela and began her term on the Commission in January 2008. Commissioner Mejía is an attorney who graduated from the School of Juridical and Political Science at the Central University of Venezuela, where she studied Administrative Law. She was Director of Legal Counsel in Venezuela’s Public Ministry and previously worked in that country’s Public Defender’s Office, as Director of Legal Resources and later Director General of Legal Services. She was also in charge of carrying out the Defense Program as part of Venezuela’s Education-Action in Human Rights Program (PROVEA), and worked as an attorney with the Women’s Association for Reciprocal Assistance (AMBAR) and the Organization for Citizen Action against AIDS (ACCSI). She co-authored the Law for the Protection of Victims, Witnesses and Others Involved in Judicial Procedures, as well as the Organic Law of the Public Defender’s Office and the Organic Law of Citizen Power. She has published research and specialized articles, and has lectured in courses and seminars.


Second Vice-Chair Felipe González is a citizen of Chile and began his term on the Commission in January 2008. Commissioner González is Professor of International Human Rights Law and Constitutional Law at Chile’s Diego Portales University. He founded and directed that university’s Human Rights Center, where from 2002 through 2006 he led the effort to prepare and publish the Annual Report on Human Rights in Chile. He also founded and coordinated a Latin American Network of Legal Human Rights Clinics. He has a Master of Law degree from American University, where he has been a Professor at the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law since 2001. He is currently a Visiting Professor at the Carlos III University in Madrid. Previously he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Lund University, the University of Deusto and the University of Alcalá de Henares. He also worked from 1991 to 2003 for the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights), first in Washington, D.C., and then in Santiago, Chile.


    Under the OAS Charter, the IACHR is the principal body responsible for promoting the observance of human rights in all States in the hemisphere. It is made up of seven jurists who are independent experts, elected in their individual capacity by the OAS Member States. During the sessions that began today, 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 OAS Member States, hold working meetings with petitioners and representatives of the States, and conduct 36 hearings of a general nature, on particular issues and on petitions and cases before the Commission.


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