OEA/Ser.L/V/II.77 rev.1
doc. 7
17 May 1990
Original:  Spanish







1.       The codification and progressive development of International Human Rights Law in the inter-American system

a.       In this report, the Commission wishes to underscore the importance of developing and ratifying international conventions for the promotion and defense of human rights, through the inter-Americans system.  The Commission noted in its brief wrap-up on the matter of codification in the 1988-1989 report, the desirability of initiating a dialogue, in the approaching decade, on the actual force of the rights included in the American Convention; existing obstacles to the effective enjoyment of those rights; the advisability of incorporating new rights, both individual and collective, as well as the possibility of amending existing mechanisms and procedures for making them more effective.  (IACHR Annual Report 1988-1989, p. 244).


b.                 Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture


At its Cartagena meeting in 1985, the General Assembly adopted the above mentioned Convention, an instrument that had been proposed by the Commission in 1978.  On March 9, 1990, the Republic of Paraguay ratified that Convention, bringing to 19 the countries that have signed it and to eight those that have ratified it (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, and Suriname).  The Commission trusts that the member countries that have not yet actively acceded fully to this important international safeguard of the rights of their peoples will do so.


c.       Acceptance of the Obligatory Jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights


In its report of last year the Commission recommended that those countries that have yet to do so, should recognize that obligatory jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court, in accordance with Article 62.2 of the American Convention on Human Rights.


On May 10, 1990, the General Secretariat received a note from the Government of the Republic of Panama, including the text of the decision taken by President Guillermo Endara Galimany, signed by him and his Minister of Foreign Affairs declaring that his Government accepts as mandatory the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in cases relative to the interpretation of application of the American Convention on Human Rights.


The states parties that have accepted the obligatory jurisdiction of the Court are:  Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.


d.       Preparation of a) a new Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, and b) a convention to prevent and punish the execrable crime of the force disappearance of persons

The Commission participates in the preparation of other instruments on this matter:  a) a new Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, and b) a convention to prevent and punish the execrable crime of the forced disappearance of persons.  In this, it has worked with the ad hoc committees of the Permanent Council responsible for preparing them, and the General Assembly’s twentieth session included an agenda item for discussion of the status of these two instruments.


e.          Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


By resolution AG/RES. 1022 (XIX/O/90) in reference to this Commission’s report, the General Assembly resolved:


13. To request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to prepare a juridical instrument relative to the rights of the Indian peoples, for adoption in 1992.


The Commission has addressed the General Assembly mandate on this matter.  The Commission has laid the groundwork with the Inter-American Indian Institute, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights and other international institutions defending human rights and representatives of Indian peoples towards discussion of the topic at a meeting of experts being organized by the Commission I conjunction with those institutions.  That meeting, scheduled to be held next year, will prepare a draft instrument, which will be submitted to the respective organs of the Organization for consideration.


f.        Cooperation with the Pan American Health Organization in its Program to “Restructure Psychiatric Care”


Pursuant to a mandate issued at its 58th session, the Commission is cooperating with the Pan American Health Organization in preparing a technical meeting on “Restructuring of Psychiatric Care” to be held in Caracas in November next.  That meeting will be in specific reference to promotion of the human rights of psychiatric patients.


g.                 Economic, Social, and Political Rights


Finally, in reference to the Additional Protocol on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador), the Commission wishes to reiterate what it has stated in previous reports.*


… that the essence of the legal obligation incurred by any government in this area is to strive to attain the economic and social aspirations of its people, by following an order that assigns priority to the basic needs of health, nutrition and education.  The priority of the “rights of survival” and “basic needs” is a natural consequence of the right to personal security.


The Commission added that the efforts to eliminate extreme poverty have been made under radically different political, economic, and cultural systems.


In turn, these efforts have produced spectacular results as has been shown in those countries that have expanded public health care services at the lowest level of society, that have tackled the problem of mass illiteracy systematically, that have undertaken comprehensive agrarian reform programs or that have extended the benefits of social security to all sectors of the population.


To date, there is not political or economic system or individual development model that has demonstrated a clearly superior capability to promote economic and social rights; but whatever the system or model may be, it must assign priority to attaining those fundamental rights which permit the elimination of extreme poverty.


In that regard, the Commission feels that immediate ratification of that Protocol and more intense and progressive effort towards its implementation by the member countries is an essential condition for the validity of human rights in the Americas, democracy and peace.


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*  Annual Report of the IACHR, 1980-81, page 125.