This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the independent and autonomous Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The creation of the IACHR, which promotes and defends human rights in all member states of the Organization of American States (OAS), occurred during the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Santiago, Chile, held from August 12 to 18, 1959.
Over the last half century, and particularly during the dark days of dictatorships and strife in the hemisphere, the IACHR has played a critical role in monitoring and supporting OAS member state adherence to human rights obligations. Its seven Commission members are recognized experts in human rights elected in their own right as individuals, not as representatives of governments. Their members’ political autonomy and objectivity distinguish the IACHR as a leading human rights body.
The IACHR utilizes four principal mechanisms in the exercise of its mandate to promote and protect human rights throughout the Americas: an individual-based case system; precautionary measures; on-site visits; and rapporteurships. The IACHR also exercises important responsibilities with respect to cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as embodied in the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. The United States is pleased to be a strong supporter of the IACHR, and extends to its Commissioners and Executive Secretariat warm congratulations upon its fiftieth anniversary.