AND LEGAL BASES OF THE IACHR
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was created under Resolution VI of the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Santiago, Chile, 1959). Part II of that resolution provided that the Commission was to be composed of seven members selected, in a personal capacity, from slates presented by the governments; the purpose of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights would be to "promote respect for such rights."
The then Council of the Organization approved the Statute of the
Commission on May 25, 1960. Under
the provisions of the Statute (Article 2) the Commission was established as an
autonomous entity of the Organization of American States.
Human rights were understood to be those spelled out in the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (Bogota, 1948).
Pursuant to that Statute, on June 29, 1960 the Council elected the
members of the Commission. It is
important to note that the members of the Commission represent all the member
States of the OAS and act in its name.
The Commission's first session was held in Washington, D.C., from October
3 through 28, 1960. Since that
first session, the Commission has held seventy-nine (79) sessions, some of
them at its headquarters in the General Secretariat, others in various member
States of the Organization.
The Second Special Inter-American Conference (Rio de Janeiro, 1965)
amended the Commission's Statute. The
amendments were in the form of additions and changes intended to make the
Statute stronger and as effective as possible in assisting the Commission
perform its functions. It was
further recognized (Resolution XXII) that the IACHR had "performed valuable
service in carrying out its mandate."
The 1960 Statute was amended as follows: i) it authorized the Commission
to pay "particular attention" to the observance of the human rights
referred to in articles I, II, III, IV, XVIII, XXV, and XXVI of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; ii)
it authorized the Commission to examine communications sent to it and any
other information available, to address the
government of any member state "for information deemed pertinent, and to
make recommendations to it, in order to bring about more effective observance of
fundamental human rights," and iii) it requested the Commission to present
an annual report to the then Inter-American Conference or the Meeting of
Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, so that the progress accomplished
and the protection of human rights could be examined at the ministerial level.
When discharging its mandate, the IACHR should first ascertain whether a
member State's legal procedures and remedies have been properly applied and
Later, at the Third Special Inter-American Conference (Buenos
Aires, 1967), the Protocol of Amendment to the Charter of the Organization of
American States was signed. That
Protocol of Amendment added important provisions to the Charter that concerned
the Commission in particular and human rights in general, thereby establishing a
quasi-conventional structure on the subject matter.
On the one hand, the Commission became one of the organs through which
the Organization accomplishes its purposes (Article 51.e of the Charter); on the
other hand, the Commission was instructed to continue to monitor for the
observance of human rights until the American Convention on Human Rights entered
into force (Article 150, transitory).
On November 22, 1969, the Inter-American Specialized Conference on
Human Rights, convoked by the Council of the OAS (San Jose, Costa Rica),
approved the American Convention on Human Rights, which entered into force on
July 18, 1978, when Grenada deposited the eleventh instrument of ratification.
At its ninth regular session (La Paz, Bolivia, 1979), the General
Assembly of the OAS approved the Commission's new Statute.
Articles 6 and 8 were later amended at the tenth regular session of the
General Assembly (Washington, D.C., 1980).
Article 1 of the Statute defines the IACHR as "an organ of the
Organization of American States, created to promote the observance and defense
of human rights and to serve as consultative organ of the Organization in this
matter." Human rights were
defined as the rights set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights, for
the States Parties thereto, and as the rights set forth in the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, for the other member States.
As with the previous Statute, the membership of the Commission, defined
in Article 2, continued to be seven members, who represent all the member States
of the OAS. Under Article 3, the
members of the Commission are to be elected in a personal capacity by the
General Assembly. Under Article 6,
they are elected to a term of four (4) years and may be reelected only once.
The Commission's functions and powers with respect to all the member
States are spelled out in Article 18 of the Statute; those it has with respect
to the States Parties to the American Convention are enumerated in Article 19.
Its powers in relation to member States that are not yet parties to the
Convention are set forth in Article 20.
BETWEEN THE IACHR AND THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
During the period to which this report refers the Commission continued to
maintain close cooperative relations with the Inter-American Court of
Human Rights, as described in Chapter II of this report, particularly as regards
hearings concerning the Court's advisory and contentious jurisdiction in matters
submitted to it by the Commission.
RELATIONS WITH SPECIALIZED ORGANIZATIONS OF THE OAS
Between 1990 and 1991 the Commission has kept up its cooperative
relations with the Specialized Organizations of the OAS in matters having to do
with human rights. These
organizations include the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM); the
Inter-American Children's Institute; and the Inter-American Indian
Institute. As part of this cooperation, there has been an exchange of
publications and working papers that, because of their nature, may be of mutual
RELATIONS WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH HUMAN RIGHTS
The Commission also continued to cooperate with the United Nations
agencies charged with protecting and promoting human rights, such as the
Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Committee provided for in the
Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of
the United Nations and, in particular, with the Commission's Working Group on
Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, in order to shed light on certain cases
of the kind reported to the Commission.
It would also be worthwhile mentioning the close cooperative relations
that the Commission has kept up with the Inter-American Institute of Human
States Parties are as follows: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Chile,
Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada,
Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay,
Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Of these, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Ecuador, Jamaica, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela
have recognized the competence of the Commission to receive interstate
communications in accordance with Article 45 of the American Convention.
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador,
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru,
Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela have recognized the
mandatory jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
under Article 62 of the Convention. OEA/Ser.A/16,
No. 36, Treaty Series.
additional information, see "Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights
in the Inter-American System" (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.,71, doc. 6 rev.1,
September 23, 1987) updated to March 1, 1988.