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-eight (88) 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 exhausted.
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,
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
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 mutual
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
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.