REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
Legal Origin and Bases of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was established by Resolution VI of
the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Santiago,
Chile, 1959), Part II of which provided that the Commission would be composed of
seven members chosen, in a personal capacity, from a list of candidates proposed
by the governments … and would have the responsibility to “promote respect
for such rights.”
then Council of the Organization approved the Statute of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights on May 25, 1960.
In conformity with it (Art. 2) the Commission was established as an
autonomous entity. Of the Organization of America States, and human rights were
understood to be those set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man (Bogota, 1948).
further conformity with that statute, the Council elected the members of the
Commission on June 29, 1960. It is
worth pointing out that the members of the Commission represent all the member
countries of the OAS and act in its name.
Commission’s first regular session was held in Washington, D.C., between
October 3 and 28, 1960. Since then
the Commission had held seventy-three (73) regular sessions, some at its
headquarters in the General Secretariat and some in different member states.
The Second Special Inter-American Conference (Rio de Janeiro, 1965) amended the Statute of the Commission, expanding and strengthening it so that it could effectively perform its functions, and further recognizing (Resolution XXII) that the Commission had “performed valuable service in carrying out its mandate.” The 1960 Statute was amended as follows: i) It authorized it to pay “particular attention” to the observance of 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 it to examine communications submitted to it and any other available information, 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 it to submit an annual report to the then Inter-American Conference or the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, so that the progress achieved and the protection of human rights could be examined at the ministerial level. In exercising the functions set forth in its mandate, the Commission should first ascertain whether the domestic legal procedures and remedies of a members state have been duly pursued and exhausted.
during the Third Special Inter-American Conference (Buenos Aires, 1967), the
Protocol of Amendments to the OAS Charter was signed. Among the amendments there were several important provisions
referring to the Commission, in particular, and to human rights, in general, and
establishing in this way a quasi-conventional structure.
On the one hand, the Commission became one of the bodies through which
the Organization accomplishes its purposes (Article 51.e of the Charter), and on
the other hand, it instructed the Commission to keep vigilance over the
observance of human rights until the American Convention on Human Rights entered
into force (Article 150, transitory).
November 22, 1969, the Inter-American Specialized Conference on Human Rights,
convoked by the OAS’ Council (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.1
its Eleventh Regular Session, the OAS General Assembly (La Paz, Bolivia, 1979)
approved the new Statute of the Commission, and at its Tenth Regular Session
(Washington, D.C., 1980) it amended Articles 6 and 8. Article 1 of the Statute defines the Commission as an organ
of the OAS “created to promote the observance and defense of human rights and
to serve as a consultative organ of the Organization in these matters,”
“human rights” to be understood as those defined in the American Convention
on Human Rights, for the States Parties to the Convention, and those contained
in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, for the other
member states. As in the previous
Statute, the Commission was to be composed of seven members who represent all
the member states of the OAS (Article 2). According
to Article 3, members of the Commission shall be elected for a term of four (4)
years by the General Assembly, and may be re-elected only once (Article 6).
to the Statute, the Commission has functions and duties to discharge with
respect to all the member states of the OAS (Article 18); with respect to the
States Parties to the American Convention (Article 19); and with respect to
those member states of the OAS that are not Parties to the American Convention
Relations Between the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human
the period covered by this report, the Commission has continued its cooperative
relations with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, as set forth in Chapter
II of this report, particularly in reference to the hearings related to the
advisory and litigious jurisdictions of the Court over matters submitted by the
Relations with Other Specialized Organizations of the OAS
1987 and 1988, the Commission continued its cooperative relations with those
Specialized Organizations of the OAS related to the human rights field, such as
the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), the Inter-American Children’s
Institute and the Inter-American Indian Institute, exchanging publications and
working documents that, due to their nature, might be of common interest.
Relations with similar organizations
the period covered by this report, the Commission also continued its cooperative
relations with the United Nations’ organs in charge of the promotion an
defense of human rights, such as the Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights
Committee provided for in the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights and, in particular, with the Working Group on Forced
Disappearances, in order to clarify some cases of the same nature reported to
respect to the organs of the Council of Europe, such as the European Commission
and the European Court of Human Rights, the Commission continues to exchange
publications and documents which are very useful for the promotion of human
rights beyond the limits of our Continent.
The State Parties are:
Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican
Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico,
Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Among them, Argentina, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador,
Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay,
and Venezuela have also recognized the jurisdiction of the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in conformity with Article 62 of the
OEA/Ser.A/16, No. 36, Treaty series.
For more information se “Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights
in the Inter-American System” (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.71, doc. 6 rev. 1, March