U.S. Department of State Response to February 22 Open Letter from Human Rights Activists

March 3, 2023

To Whom it May Concern:

Thank you for your February 22 letter regarding the decision to withdraw the nomination of Professor James Cavallaro to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  On behalf of the Secretary, and in my capacity as Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), we appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.

The United States champions the IACHR as a critical regional human rights body for monitoring, promoting, and protecting human rights in the Western Hemisphere.  As such, we recognize the need for the IACHR to operate independently and autonomously of OAS Member States to effectively execute its mandate.  To this end, we place high importance on the nomination, and election of, independent and impartial commissioners by OAS Member States.  In fact, the United States sponsored text adopted by the 2022 OAS General Assembly to this effect.

The United States remains deeply committed to the defense of freedom of expression, including on the part of academia, and human rights advocacy.  Candidates for the IACHR are free to express their own viewpoints on U.S. policy, even if they differ from the U.S. government’s stated position.

Regrettably, after the Department had completed its selection process, several of Professor Cavallaro’s social media posts on a variety of topics came to light which were inappropriate, including ad hominem attacks by Professor Cavallaro against multiple elected officials.  Due to this information, we lost confidence in his viability as a successful U.S. nominee for commissioner.

We will continue our pro-democracy work with civil society, academic partners, and human rights practitioners to address human rights challenges here in the United States and throughout the region.  This includes our strong ongoing political and financial commitment to the work and mandate of the IACHR.


Frank O. Mora

Permanent Representative

U.S. Mission to the OAS