AND LEGAL BASES OF THE IACHR
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was created
by 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
nominees presented by the governments; the purpose of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is 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
eighty-five (85) sessions, some of them at its headquarters in
the General Secretariat, others in various member states of the
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 in the performance of 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 invoked 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 which were of particular concern to the Commission, and to 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 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 a consultative organ to 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 its Statute; those that
apply 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.
RELATIONS BETWEEN THE IACHR AND THE
INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF
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 with regard to 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 1992 and 1993 the Commission has continued its
cooperative relationship with the Specialized Organizations of the OAS
in matters pertaining to 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
RELATIONS WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH
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 similar cases reported to the
It would also be worthwhile mentioning the close cooperative
relationship which the Commission has maintained with the
Inter-American Institute of Human Rights.
The States Parties are as follows: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil,
Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador,
El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico,
Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago,
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, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua,
Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad
and Tobago, 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.