United States’ Intervention before the OAS Permanent Council on Strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System, January 25, 2012.
Mr. Chair, allow me to first express our sincere gratitude to Ambassador Joel Hernandez for his agile management, patience and professionalism as Chair of the Working Group. We would also like to thank Ambassador Hugo de Zela for his time serving as Chair.
The United States strongly supports the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as well as the Court, and supports its role in addressing particular human rights situations in particular countries.
The Commission has been, and remains, an important voice in addressing human rights situations in all countries of the hemisphere, including the United States.
We can all take great pride in the Commission’s role, historically and today, as an independent entity that is respected throughout the world for its steadfast and valiant commitment to promoting and defending human rights throughout the Americas, even in the face of the harshest criticism.
Today, we look forward to concluding the period of reflection and allowing the Commission and the Court to consider and implement, where appropriate, these non-binding recommendations, while never losing sight of their noble calling — to promote, protect, and defend human rights and vulnerable populations through the region. It is critical that we allow these organs to operate without political interference.
We believe the reflection process has led to constructive proposals that should be considered by the Commission and other elements of the system, including more robust use of friendly settlements and seeking greater financial support of the system as a whole.
The United States does not believe that any of these non-binding recommendations should be implemented in a manner that in any way, shape or form weakens the system. The mandate of this Working Group, which concluded its work on December 13, was aimed solely to strengthen the system, both politically and financially.
In this spirit, we believe that any interpretation of the recommendations should be made in a manner that does not distort the aim of the reflection process or seek to weaken the autonomy and independence of the Commission.
In particular, we should ensure that the Commission’s Thematic Rapporteurs maintain their independence and access to OAS and outside donor funding.
We believe the last round of IACHR review, concluded three years ago by member states, also provided sufficient clarity on the role of Rapporteurs.
We would like to underscore and emphasize that it is up to the Commission, which welcomes three new Commissioners this month, to review, follow-up, and implement these non-binding recommendations in a way that strengthens their work and independence. This is critical to the credibility of the system and the reputation it holds throughout the world.
The human rights organs of the OAS are worthy of our strong support and we must not let disagreements with the Commission or the Court overshadow our shared objective of bringing an end to human rights abuses.
The defense and promotion of human rights is—and must remain—the foundation of this Organization and we must remain steadfast in our support.
Respect for human rights helps to secure the peace, deter aggression, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracy, and prevent humanitarian crises.
Mr. Chair, the United States is committed to the Inter-American Human Rights system and understands that implementation of any recommendations will be difficult, if not impossible, without a substantial increase in the overall budget.
My government has long been a financial supporter of the Commission, and we invite others in this room to consider how they can support the Commission financially.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.