Category Archives: civil society

OAS General Assembly Elects Three New IACHR Commissioners

The current composition of the seven Commissioners on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Credit: CIDH

Joel Hernández García (Mexico), Antonia Urrejola Noguera (Chile), and Flávia Cristina Piovesan (Brazil) were elected to join the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) at the 47th Regular Session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly held in Cancun, Mexico between June 19 and June 21, 2017. See OAS, 47th Regular Session. They will join four other IACHR Commissioners next calendar year to complete the seven-member IACHR, and replace outgoing IACHR Commissioners James Cavallaro (United States), Paulo Vannuchi (Brazil), and Jose de Jesus Orozco Henriquez (Mexico). The three new Commissioners were among a group of six candidates competing for the three vacant positions. Following criticism over lack of transparency and civil society involvement in the selection and election of new Commissioners to the IACHR, this election involved an independent panel organized by civil society to assess the qualifications of each of the candidates. [Open Society Foundations Press Release] The panel was convened by the Center for Justice and Law (CEJIL), the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), and the Open Society Justice Initiative with the support of other civil society organizations, universities, and bar associations. [CEJIL: SIAHRS] Read more

News Clips- June 9, 2017

European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Cherry X via Wikimedia Commons

Activities of International Human Rights Bodies and Experts


  • After the United States President announced last week that the State will leave the Paris Climate Agreement, cities and states in the country announced that they will still comply with the Paris Agreement. [Guardian; Voice of America]
  • This week, the opposition party in Lesotho won a majority of parliamentary seats during a snap election. [Al Jazeera]
  • Last Friday, the Prime Minister of Cambodia announced that opposition parties in the State should not attempt to challenge recent local elections or they could be dissolved. [Washington Post]
  • The United States warned again this week that it may pull out of the United Nations Human Rights Council unless the UN body reconsiders how States, particularly those with negative human rights records, become members of the Council. [Washington Post]

Civil Society

  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein last Friday called for an investigation into the deaths of five protesters in Bahrain. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • After five farmers died at a rally in India, protesters demonstrated on Wednesday, prompting the deployment of troops on Thursday. [Washington Post; ABC News]
  • Detainees in Venezuela, including protesters detained for demonstrating, claim they are being beaten and tortured while in custody. [Miami Herald]

News Clips- May 26, 2017

United Nations Security Council discusses South Sudan
Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Civil Society

  • On Wednesday, after eight weeks of protests, the death toll in Venezuela rose to 56 people. [LA Times]
  • On Wednesday, anti-government protesters in Brazil set fire to a ministry building, and in response, President Michel Temer gave the army policing power to restore order. [Reuters]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Wednesday, a bombing in Somalia, claimed by al-Shabaab, killed five and injured six civilians. [Reuters]
  • On Tuesday, two United Nations peacekeepers were killed in Mali. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, at least 22 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester, Britain. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, a United Nations report concluded that soldiers in South Sudan responsible for killing more than 100 civilians between July 2016 and January 2017 may be liable for war crimes or crimes against humanity. [Newsweek]


  • On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court in Taiwan ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, allowing Taiwan’s legislature two years to amend its laws. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, 100 men were arrested in Indonesia in a raid on a gay sauna. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, 27 men were arrested in Bangladesh based on suspicions that they are gay. [Washington Post]

Activities of International Bodies

  • On Wednesday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created three new thematic units: the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Unit on Memory, Truth, and Justice; and Unit of the Rights of Older Persons. [IACHR Press Release]
  • On Wednesday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched guidelines for the proper investigation of unlawful killings. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • This week, a panel supported by the United Nations publicly released a draft of a treaty that would ban the possession and use of all nuclear weapons. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, the European Parliament passed a resolution requesting a United Nations-led investigation into the killing of protesters in Ethiopia. [HRW]

Migrants, Asylum Seekers, & Refugees

Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva Elected as New IACHR Commissioner

Commissioners Margarette May Macaulay and Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño
Credit: IACHR

On May 10, 2017, Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva was elected by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) to be one of seven Commissioners of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), replacing former Commissioner Enrique Gil Botero, who resigned on March 9. [IACHR Press Release: Election; IACHR Press Release: Resignation] Vargas Silva will fulfill the remainder of Gil Botero’s four-year term, which began on January 1, 2016, and ends on December 31, 2019. [IACHR Press Release: Election] Vargas Silva, who has worked in Colombia’s judiciary for 40 years, including as a judge on the Constitutional Court for nearly eight, has strived to improve the nation’s judicial system in order to “overcome the systematic violation of the fundamental rights of the displaced population.” [IACHR Press Release: Election] As Commissioner, he vows to “work to improve the effectiveness of the [Inter-American Human Rights System] and to advance a culture of respect for human rights in all member countries of the [OAS].” [IACHR Press Release: Election] Six candidates are competing to join Vargas Silva on the Commission to fill three additional spots due to become available at the end of 2017. While an independent panel recently assessed the qualifications of those six candidates, Vargas Silva’s qualifications were not examined by the panel. [Open Society Foundations] The OAS General Assembly will select in June the three new Commissioners. [Open Society Foundations] Read more

News Clips- May 19, 2017

United Nations Representative of the Republic of Korea, Cho Tae-yul, speaks to journalists on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent missile launch.
Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Civil Society

  • On Friday, an estimated 11 activists were detained in Moscow while reading aloud Russia’s constitution. [Guardian]
  • On Wednesday, the government in Venezuela announced it will deploy 2,000 soldiers in response to the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that have been protesting the government since April. [Guardian]

Freedom of Expression & Access to Information


  • This week, Lebanon was set to be the first Arab country to celebrate gay pride, but the landmark events were canceled due to threatened violence. [Reuters]
  • On Wednesday, the International Day Against Homophobia, 100 activists demonstrated in Russia to protest gay persecution and violence in Chechnya. [Washington Post]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Sunday, authorities in Yemen declared a state of emergency due to a cholera outbreak that has killed 115 people. [Guardian]
  • On Monday, at least 20 people died in attacks on a village in Nigeria that may be connected to land disputes in the region. [Washington Post]
  • On Wednesday, it was reported that the Red Cross found 115 people dead in Bangassou, Central African Republic after days of attacks. [Washington Post]


  • This week, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization launched a two-year worldwide effort to gather data to improve predictions of weather, particularly in the Arctic and Antarctic. [UN News Centre]
  • The United States Secretary of State signed a document to protect the Arctic, extend scientific cooperation, and acknowledge the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. [Guardian]


  • On Sunday, North Korea test-fired a mid-to-long-range missile; North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, claims the United States is in range of the rocket. [Guardian]
  • On Monday, the president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, ordered sanctions against Russia, including blocking access to popular Russian websites for three years. [Guardian]
  • This week, the European Union threatened to sanction Hungary for its anti-European Union rhetoric. [Al Jazeera]


News Clips – May 12, 2017

Fatou Bensouda addresses the United Nations Security Council
Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Civil Society

  • On Thursday, five LGBT activists in Russia were detained while trying to submit a petition, requesting an investigation into the crackdown against gay men in Chechnya. [Guardian]
  • On Monday, Xie Yang, a human rights lawyer in China, was tried for inciting state subversion. [Guardian]
  • This week, the President of Tunisia deployed the army to protect businesses from sit-ins, and other demonstrations, that are protesting unemployment and corruption in the country. [Washington Post]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Thursday, two civilians were killed, and three were injured, during gunfire attacks between Indian and Pakistani soldiers at the Kashmir border. [Washington Post]
  • On Wednesday, a court in Austria convicted a man of war crimes for the murder of 20 wounded Syrian soldiers. [Guardian]
  • On Tuesday, a motorcycle bomb and a car bomb detonated in the Pattani province of Thailand, injuring 40 people. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Monday, a rebel group in the Central African Republic ambushed a United Nations convoy, leaving four United Nations peacekeepers dead. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, a car bomb explosion in Somalia, claimed by Al-Shabab, killed five people and wounded 20 others. [Al Jazeera]

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Migrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers

  • Over the weekend, two boats sank in the Mediterranean Sea; 250 refugees and migrants remain missing. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Monday, Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced to the United Nations Security Council that the ICC may investigate migrant-related crimes in Libya, such as human trafficking. [UN News Centre]


  • On Wednesday, Colombia’s congress approved a law that recognizes the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a legal political party and guarantees FARC five seats in both the senate and lower house. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Wednesday, South Korea elected Moon Jae-in as its next President. [Washington Post]
  • On Sunday, France elected Emmanuel Macron as its next President. [Washington Post]
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