ORIGIN AND BASES OF THE
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
its resolution on human rights, the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of
Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Santiago, Chile, 1959) established an
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to “promote respect for such
Council approved the Statute of the Commission on May 25, 1960, and
elected its seven members on June 29 of that year.
February 27, 1967, the Protocol of Amendments to the OAS Charter was
signed in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Article 112 of the Protocol calls for an Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, with the primary function of promoting the
observance and defense of human rights and serving as an organ of
consultation for the OAS in this field.
It also raised the Commission to the rank of a principal organ
subject to a future convention on human rights (Art. 112, last part),
and provided that in the interim period between the entry into force of
the Protocol and the entry into force of the Convention, the IACHR
established by the Fifth Meeting of Consultation, “shall keep
vigilance over the observance of human rights” (Art. 150).
on November 12, 1969, the American Convention on Human Rights was signed
in San Jose, Costa Rica, and entered into force almost nine years later
on July 18, 1978, when the eleventh instrument of ratification was
deposited by the member State of Grenada.
As of that date the Convention had been signed by eleven states
parties: Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic,
Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica,
Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama Peru and Venezuela.
its ninth regular session (La Paz, Bolivia, October 1979), the OAS
General Assembly approved the new Statute of the Commission.
At the following regular session of the General Assembly, held in
November of 1980, in Washington, D. C., Articles 6 and 8 of the Statute
were amended. Pursuant to
Article 112 of the OAS Charter that established the Commission, Article
1 of the Commission’s Statute defines it as: “An organ…created to
promote the observance and defense of human rights and to serve as
consultative organ of the Organization to this matter.”
its forty-ninth session (April 1980), the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights adopted new Regulations.
the Commission wishes to point out that a more detailed explanation of
its origin and its legal bases, and the text of the instruments
governing it are contained in the document “Handbook of Existing Rules
Pertaining to Human Rights” (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.60, doc. 28, July 26,
WITH OTHER AGENCIES OF THE SYSTEM AND WITH REGIONAL AND WORLD AGENCIES
OF THE SAME TYPE
1982-83, the Commission continued to cooperate in the human rights field
with the Inter-American Commission of Women, the Inter-American
Children’s Institute and the Inter-American Indian Institute, which
are specialized organs of the OAS.
In addition, it continued during that time to strengthen its
cooperative ties with the United Nations’ Commission and Committee on
Human Rights and the European Commission on Human Rights, through an
exchange of documents and information.
Worthy of special note were the visits to the United Nations
Center in Geneva, Switzerland, by the Chairman and Executive Secretary
of the IACHR in February 1983, at which time useful and fruitful
contacts were made at the highest level with officials of the Office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the
International Labour Organization (ILO) and a number of nongovernmental
organizations, in addition to the Division of Human Rights and Peace in
Paris, France of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO.) During
these visits, there were important exchanges of experience in the field
of international protection of human rights.
OF THE IACHR WITH THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
the period covered by this report, the IACHR continued to cooperate with
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The Commission decided to request an advisory opinion from the
Court, in connection with Chapter II of this report, on subparagraph 2
of Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights in reference to
certain problems arising from imposition of the death penalty in
countries that have not abolished it. Because of its special importance, the text of the Court’s
opinion is given further on.