N° 3/05


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is very pleased to announce the creation of a Special Rapporteurship on the rights of persons of African descent and on racial discrimination.  The functions of Special Rapporteur were assigned to Commissioner Clare K. Roberts, recently elected President of the IACHR.


The Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of People of Afro-Descendants and Against Racial Discrimination will dedicate itself to activities of stimulating, systematizing, reinforcing and consolidating the action of the Inter-American Commission on the rights of people of African-descendent and racial discrimination.


In this perspective, the core objectives of the Special Rapporteurship will include work with OAS Member States for the following purposes: to generate awareness of the states’ duty to respect the human rights of afro-descendants and on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination; to analyze the current challenges that confront countries of the region in this area, formulate recommendations designed to overcome the obstacles and identifying and sharing best practices in the region with respect to this matter; to monitor, and provide any technical assistance requested by member States in the implementation of the recommendations in national law and practice.


Within the Commission, the Rapporteurship will work to stimulate, systematize, reinforce and consolidate the action of the Inter-American Commission on the rights of people of African-descendent and racial discrimination; to comply with the mandates of the OAS General Assembly to the Commission related to Afro-descendants, racism and racial discrimination; to support the work of the Commission related to Afro-descendants and racial discrimination such as:


-        Prepare reports and special studies on the rights of afro-descendants and, more broadly, studies on issues pertaining to elimination of racial discrimination;


-        Analyze complaints of racism and racial discrimination received by the Commission and convey to the Commission its opinion and recommendations with regard to those complaints;


-       Make recommendations to the Commission regarding hearings to be granted during regular sessions and participates with the Commission in hearings having to do with alleged violations. The Special Rapporteurship will also work with the parties to achieve friendly settlements;


-        Undertake consultations and prepare recommendations to member States regarding the modification of existing laws and articles related to the rights of afro-descendants and on racial discrimination;


-        Accompany the Commission in its in loco visits to the countries of the region. During the visits, the Office will gather information and investigate the most relevant problems related to African-descendent and racial discrimination;


-       Draft admissibility and merit’s reports as well as thematic, country and annual reports.


The Special Rapporteur will work with the other Special Rapporteurships of the Commission in the matters that intersect with afro-descendants and racial discrimination and their respective mandates.  With civil society, the work will be focused on amplifying awareness in the region of the guarantees and mechanisms the inter-American human rights system offers for the protection of the rights of afro-descendants and against racial discrimination.  Also, the Rapporteurship shall maintain a data base on the most current information received through its informal hemispheric network related to the rights of people of African-descendent and racial discrimination in member States or progress in this matter; promote the System through its participation in education and training activities as well as seminars, conferences and fora, among others.  Finally, the new Special Rapporteurship will work in collaboration with the pertinent UN Bodies, including CERD, the Working Group of Afro-descendants, the Special Rapporteur on Racial Discrimination.


Washington, D.C., February 25, 2005