Genevieve Libonati, Political Counselor for the U.S. Permanent Mission to the OAS, addressed a session of the Permanent Council on the budgetary situation affecting the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), May 25, 2016.
Thank you, Chair. I would like to thank President of the Commission Cavallaro and the delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for their presentation today. With the entire team present today, the United States would like to thank you for the important work you do to protect human rights through this hemisphere. It goes without saying that the OAS financial situation extends not only to the regular fund but clearly has consequences for voluntary funding, as we have seen a number of offices — not just Commission — in the OAS lose funding due to reductions by countries and other donors in their voluntary funding levels.
We agree that the situation is dire and is now affecting some of the most important functions and organs of the OAS, including not only the Commission but also the Court.
As the largest financial contributor to the OAS, the United States is firmly committed to supporting an Organization that values accountability to its member states and transparency in its operating procedures. To this end, we are working closely with other member states and donors to help transform the OAS into a more vibrant and efficient institution that supports the core values of its founding Charter, including the exercise of human rights.
That said, ongoing financial problems are affecting every part of the OAS, including the Inter-American Commission. For our past, and as we have underscored on numerous occasions and reiterated at the Special General Assembly of 2013 on the strengthening of the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS), the United States remains strongly committed to the long-term viability and relevance of the OAS and its human rights mechanisms.
We recognize the valuable work of the Commission and its critical role in advancing the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the Americas. We also are proud of our long-standing record of political and financial support for the Commission and its Rapporteurs, including the efforts of the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression. This year alone, the United States has contributed over $2.4 million to the Commission in voluntary contributions.
However, ensuring the short and long-term viability of the IACHR will require the renewed commitment of all 34 active member states, permanent observers, as well as other organs and interested stakeholders.
Let me be quite clear on this point, Mr. Chairman. The United States alone cannot fix the financial crisis of the Organization, including the increased loss of voluntary funds for specific projects, which is now impacting the Commission. With this in mind, and fully respectful of the Commission’s independence and autonomy, we would advocate for a funding approach that focuses on contributions from a variety of new sources and increased funding from OAS member states.
To this end, we encourage the IACHR to begin outreach on strategies to attract new donors and implement efficient technologies to address its financial and strategic needs. The upcoming General Assembly provides a useful forum for such outreach, especially within the framework of the Commission’s new Strategic Plan.
Together with other OAS member states, permanent observers, foundations, and civil society, the United States is fully committed to finding long-term solutions to the current budget crisis.
Today, we join calls by OAS member states to urgently provide voluntary funding to the Commission so they can continue their important work of promoting and defending human rights in the hemisphere.