After a severe financial crisis threatened to effectively shut down major operations at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) this year, the IACHR recently announced that the immediate crisis is now over. Many States and other entities have agreed to donate funds, allowing the IACHR to salvage its budget and continue operating. Because the IACHR has overcome the crisis, it will be able to hold its second period of sessions for the year, in Panama City from November 29, 2016 to December 7, 2016. [IACHR Press Release: Panama] It will also avoid laying off staff, nearly half of whom were at risk of losing their positions. [IACHR Press Release: Crisis]
While the IACHR expressed its gratitude to donors and its relief at avoiding disaster, it emphasized that its overall financial health remains precarious and States must do more to fund its effective functioning. To that end, the IACHR and its judicial counterpart, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), have drafted a joint budget proposal for 2017. The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) will review the proposal and adopt the OAS budget on October 31. [IACHR Press Release: Overcome; IACHR Press Release: Proposal] Read more
Colombian Peace Agreement Ceremony
Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
On Sunday, October 2, 2016 Colombians headed to the polls to vote on a peace agreement to end the 52-year war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas. [The Guardian: Voters] Contrary to what the polls had predicted, the peace deal referendum was rejected by a 0.4 percent margin. [The Guardian: Voters] The deal was the result of four years of negotiations between the government, led by President Juan Manuel Santos, and the FARC. The agreement instituted a ceasfire and initiated the demobilization of fighters through a process that will continue to be overseen by the United Nations. [UN News Centre] It also included provisions that would have cut off FARC’s ties to the drug trade, required FARC guerillas to turn in their weapons and transition to a political movement that would allow FARC leaders to participate in government, and permit rebel leaders to confess and avoid jail time through special tribunal proceedings, while granting amnesty to fighters. [The Guardian: Brexit]
The peace deal, while criticized for compounding impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity, was largely seen as an opportunity to move towards peace. [Amnesty International: No Vote] With the no vote and the remaining uncertainty over the future of Colombia and FARC’s activities, officials have re-entered negotiations. [The Guardian: Brexit] Meanwhile, the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized President Santos’ efforts, awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize this past week. [Nobel Prize] Read more
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has referred four cases over the last two months to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) involving Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Two of the cases, against Mexico and Nicaragua, involve sexual violence against women and girls. The case against Chile concerns the need to obtain informed consent prior to medical proceedings and the failure of public hospitals to provide adequate medical care. The most recent referral is a case against Guatemala in which 11 indigenous people were massacred. The IACHR referred these cases to the Court because the States involved did not comply with the recommendations issued in the IACHR’s merits report. Additionally, referral of a case offers the Court an opportunity to develop its jurisprudence regarding the particular standards and rights applicable in each case. Read more
The United Nations Human Rights Council
Credit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferre
During the month of October 2016, numerous universal and regional human rights bodies will assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations, visit countries, and hold hearings on individual complaints. Five UN treaty bodies meeting this month will engage in dialogues with States regarding their implementation of treaty obligations related to civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; the rights of children; the rights of women; and enforced disappearances. The UN Human Rights Council will host a Universal Periodic Review Working Group session along with its annual Social Forum, a space reserved for progressive communication among various actors in the international sphere. Five UN special procedures will carry out country visits and a sixth will hold a session in Geneva, where two Human Rights Council working groups, on racism and transnational corporations, will also meet this month.
At the regional level, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child will each hold sessions and examine State compliance with regional human rights standards. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear two cases related to the right to a fair trial, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold both a special session and a regular session and will hear three cases, and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will hold a regular session. The UN treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV, the European Court hearings may be watched on their website, Inter-American Court proceedings may be viewed via Vimeo, and the recordings of AfCHPR’s hearings will be available on youtube. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar. Read more
Read our September 2016 newsletter for the latest human rights news, details of our recent training, new additions to the Online Resource Hub, and more.
Francisco Rivera and Roxanna Altholz discuss advocacy before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
On September 23, 2016 more than 100 people gathered at University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco for a training on the human rights of migrants hosted by the International Justice Resource Center and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. The distinguished line-up of speakers included experts on international human rights advocacy and on migrants’ issues. The experts reviewed current challenges for migrants, including detention and raids, access to legal representation, asylum and protection, and migrant workers’ rights. The purpose of the training was to place these challenges in a broader international human rights context in order to guide lawyers and advocates in applying human rights norms and tools to their litigation and advocacy efforts in California. The training covered a range of issues, but one of the main topics during the day was that international human rights law and advocacy, when pursued, should be part of a larger and coordinated advocacy strategy.
See the agenda for additional details and visit the online supplementary materials folder to view selected reports, manuals, factsheets, and other documents related to migrants’ rights and the training. We anticipate posting the video recordings of each session later this week on IJRC’s trainings webpage. IJRC thanks the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies for co-hosting the event, and Public Counsel and the International Law & Practice Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco for their co-sponsorship of this program. Visit the IJRC website to keep informed of future IJRC trainings and events, or join our mailing list. Read more