No. 25/01


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“the Commission” or “the IACHR”) formally inaugurated its 113th regular session today with a ceremony in the OAS Permanent Council.  The regular session, which will end on October 19, 2001, was postponed as a result of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.


The IACHR is made up of Dean Claudio Grossman, President; Dr. Juan E. Méndez, First Vice-President; Ms. Marta Altolaguirre, Second Vice-President; and commissioners Dr. Hélio Bicudo, Professor Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Peter Laurie, and Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo.  In his inaugural address, Dean Grossman spoke of the need to strengthen the inter-American system:


In recent years, the Commission and the Court have taken significant steps to strengthen the inter-American human rights system.  These steps have been accompanied by the resolve and participation of the political organs.  However, the system has yet to receive the basic human and financial resources it needs to function.


          In this connection, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Dr. Santiago Canton, added:


It is fundamental to make resources available to the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  In recent years, both organs have played an active role in defending democracy in the Hemisphere.  We need only cite the example of Peru, where both the IACHR and the Inter-American Court expressed firm legal positions that doubtless contributed to the democratic recovery of the country.  This clearly demonstrates the key role played by the two organs and the need to strengthen the inter-American human rights system.


During the current session, the Commission will examine draft reports on human rights violations during the procedural stages of admissibility, merits, friendly settlement, and applications before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  The IACHR will also evaluate the human rights situation in various OAS member states.  Hearings in connection with the 113th regular session will be held from November 12 to 16, 2001.

President Grossman concluded the opening ceremony on a note of optimism regarding the future of the region:



Our hemisphere has witnessed the invention and creative development of technological forces that are changing the world.  But it has also been marked by instances of perverse imagination.  Suffice it to say that this is the Hemisphere that coined the term “disappeared,” to indicate that they were no longer, they were taken away, they did not exist, and we were not responsible.  In response, countless women and men displayed a photo for each of the disappeared, demanded that they be recognized, and called for their existence, thus contributing to a reality of democracy and human rights.  The loftiest chapter in our history has been creative and humanistic imagination.  It is my deepest and most optimistic conviction that said history, of which the globalization of human dignity and the inter-American human rights system are an essential part, will prevail.


Washington, D.C., October 10, 2001