Strengthening ties to protect people in the Americas

The UN Human Rights Office and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reinforce their ties with the signature of a joint declaration of collaboration.

The IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights constitute the human rights bodies of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Although the Americas have transitioned from dictatorships and civil wars to well anchored democracies, human rights remain a challenge. The joint declaration comes at a crucial time for human rights in the region, in particular as they relate to the development and economic spheres where disparities within countries persist. Discrimination, particularly towards indigenous communities, is at the root of these inequalities that also fuel social unrest.

Violence and insecurity have further plagued many American countries: the region has the highest homicide rates in a non-conflict setting in the world. Such levels of violence and insecurity present a great threat to human rights and the rule of law.

The UN Human Rights Office and the Inter-American Commission have long worked together to follow-up on recommendations made by UN human rights field presences, and monitoring bodies, as well as the regional human rights organs, to set and help implement human rights standards in the region. They have also worked together to put in place urgent actions, interim and other measures to avoid further damage to victims of human rights violations and uphold their rights to truth to truth, justice and reparation.

In recent months, for example, the thematic rapporteurs on human rights defenders of both organizations have stepped-up their collaboration in the Americas in favour of those who have experienced threats and reprisals, or were even killed for their engagement.

At the signing ceremony, UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein confirmed that the work of both organizations is complementary.

“By working together we can do more to protect and promote human rights in the American continent. The Inter-American Commission is a highly respected body and has our strong support,” he said. “We are concerned about resistance by certain countries towards the regional system and urge all OAS Member States to abide by their responsibility to support the Inter-American Commission by complying with its decisions and providing it with adequate funding.”

Tracy Robinson, President of the Inter-American Commission, noted that both entities face similar challenges.

“Our alliance is therefore crucial to strengthening our role in helping States to meet their human rights obligations and victims to enjoy their rights,” she stressed. “We welcome this declaration as an important step in reinforcing the human rights of the inhabitants of the Americas and look forward to continuing this close contact with the High Commissioner, his Office and the human rights mechanisms it services.”

In recent months, the UN Human Rights Office signed similar declarations with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe.

21 November 2014

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