The Inter-American human rights system in crisis.

Author:Pinto, Monica
Position:International Law in a Multipolar World

This panel was convened at 3:15 pm, Thursday, April 4, by its moderator, Ariel Dulitzky of the University of Texas School of Law, who introduced the panelists: Breno de Souza Diaz de Costa, Interim Representative of Brazil to the Organization of American States; Joel Antonio Hernandez Garcia, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the Organization of American States; Monica Pinto of the University of Buenos Aires Law School; and Jose Miguel Vivanco of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch. *


By Monica Pinto ([dagger])

It is said that the Inter-American Human Rights System (IASHR) is facing a crisis, that it needs reform. What kind of crisis is the system dealing with?

The crisis does not involve victims or rights. It does not deal with time limits, the role of NGOs, recruitments, or with the establishment of an academic community to study and construct a critical analysis of the decisions.

Instead, in the words of the Nicaraguan delegate, the crisis broke out because of certain aspects that states find problematic in the IASHR. That means that we are facing a crisis because certain features of the Commission's work bothers certain states.

The next question is: Why is there a crisis if the Commission maintains the same practices it always has? The answer is that the context has changed; that this America is not the one which faced authoritarianism in the 1970s and 1980s. Maybe this is true.

In the words of the Brazilian delegate, today we are living a different time. We identify new demands and new challenges; we live in a continent where economic, social, and cultural rights should be the first priority and where governments have taken action to reduce poverty. Therefore, it is necessary to update the IASHR.

In fact, states are suggesting a new balance of power. They stress their democratic origin; they are popular democracies. This populism entails, as a consequence, the rejection of any criticism of their human rights behavior--even more when it comes from a group of experts who have not been elected by the will of the people.

They use human rights language to blame the Commission for its independence and autonomy from member states; they are complaining because the system works against the indivisibility and the interdependence of human rights, allowing the massive violation of certain human rights by omission (e.g., because the Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression is better financed than...

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