The government of Ecuador continues to champion reforms to the Inter-American human rights system, presenting a resolution at the current Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Asuncion, Paraguay that would overhaul funding mechanisms for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
As EFE reports, Ecuador’s proposal would create a single fund to collect donations for the IACHR, the division of which would be previously agreed upon by OAS member states and would not allow donors to allocate specific resources to each of the commission’s various rapporteurships. The resolution also echoes longstanding calls to move IACHR headquarters out of Washington DC, on the basis that the United States has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights.
On Monday, OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza criticized appeals to relocate commission, claiming that because it forms part of the secretary general’s office, this would have to move along with it.
Both Insulza’s remarks and Ecuador’s proposal come on the heels of a meeting of signatories to the San Jose Pact in a Port-au-Prince suburb last week, which culminated in the "Haiti Declaration" (see .pdf). This statement essentially forms the basis for Ecuador’s proposal. Among other things, the declaration calls for the creation of the single fund, and mentions Haiti, Uruguay and Mexico as potential hosts for the IACHR.
Just as with previous reform proposals, the suggestion has been met with criticism from civil society. A coalition of some 60 human rights organizations from around the hemisphere has released a joint statement objecting to it. In the NGOs' statement, the groups reject the creation of a single fund, arguing that doing so would “clearly violate the autonomy of the commission.” The organizations also oppose moving the IACHR’s headquarters, noting that its mandate allows it to choose its own meeting places according to its mission of defending human rights.
The statement also mentions the commission’s newly-created Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, hailing the IACHR’s efforts to recognize the “interdependence” of different human rights. The new office, the first “special,” full-time rapporteurship since the 1998 launch of the Special Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression, has been interpreted as a buffer from criticism that the commission disproportionately emphasizes civil and political rights.
If the prior failed reform efforts are any indicator, odds are slim that the current General Assembly will approve Ecuador’s proposal. But the fact that these calls for reform keep arising is worrying, as it suggests that a perception of the IACHR as “out of touch” still resonates with much of the hemisphere.
the next round of negotiations over the fourth issue on the Colombian
peace talk agenda -- victims' rights and reparations -- will officially
begin after June 15 presidential elections, Semana reports
that both sides have begun meeting to outline an agenda for dialogue over
the issue. In remarks to the press in Havana yesterday, FARC and
government negotiators also made similar calls for the country to embrace
the peace process. The AFP
reports that chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle
asked all Colombians -- particularly members of the security forces -- not
to be misled by those who have an interest in attacking" the
dialogue. Rebel leader Ivan Marquez also asserted that "all of
Colombia should defend the peace process." De la Calle's remarks come
after President Juan Manuel Santos' running mate, German Vargas
Lleras, publicly complained about police
and army officials actively campaigning for his rival, Oscar Zuluaga.
this month, hundreds of Colombian paramilitaries are expected to be
released after serving a maximum of eight years in prison under the terms
of the country’s 2005 Justice and Peace Law. While -- as
Verdad Abierta notes -- courts have excluded “pure drug
traffickers” from the deal, the release of perpetrators of human rights
abuses does not sit well with victims and their relatives. Writing for
Reuters Foundation, Anastasia Moloney profiles responses to the
releases among rape survivors belonging to the Association of
Afro-Colombian women for Peace (Afromupaz).
- Milenio reports
that in a ruling last week, the Mexican Supreme Court (SCJN) found that a
2012 reform to the Michoacan state constitution -- which had been
challenged by the autonomous
indigenous community of Cheran -- violated federal protections of
indigenous rights. Fundar researcher Mariana Mora offers a good
explanation of the decision’s significance for Sin Embargo,
noting that it is the first time the country has recognized indigenous
municipalities’ right to prior consultation.
- The Washington
Post reports on the way that a criminal battle for control over
the port city of Tampico, in Mexico's northeastern Tamaulipas state, has
fueled a climate of fear among locals. The Post contrasts Tamaulipas with
Michoacan, where so-called “self-defense” militias have sprung up recently
to fight criminal networks, citing analysts who say rural communities in
the northern border state are not nearly as cohesive.
- The L.A.
Times, meanwhile, has published the latest look at the U.S. links of
Michoacan’s militia movement. The paper notes that ties to immigrant
communities in the U.S. southwest have provided vigilante groups with key
the eve of the World Cup in Brazil, a new Pew
Research Center poll has found that 72 percent of Brazilians are
dissatisfied with the overall state of affairs in their country, up from
55 percent in the weeks before last June's wave of demonstrations. The
survey's findings on attitudes towards the economic climate were even more
drastic, with the percent of Brazilians who rate the current economic situation
as "bad" jumping from 41 percent last year to 67 percent.
Street Journal, in its analysis of the poll, notes that this is the
first time that Pew has seen majority dissatisfaction with the economy
since it began monitoring the issue in 2010.
an interview for the New
York Times, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff struck back at critics
of her country’s World Cup preparations, telling the paper that only “a
small minority” of Brazilians would actually ignore the
championship. In a rare reference to her imprisonment for
belonging to an urban guerrilla group under the dictatorship, the
president said she and her fellow prisoners avidly followed the 1970 World
Cup and rooted for Brazil’s team despite their opposition to the military
government. Rousseff also said she was optimistic about improving
relations with the U.S. despite the fallout from the NSA scandal, saying
she is “certain we can pick up our relations where we left off.”
NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s recent claims that he has
sought asylum in Brazil, Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto
Figueiredo told journalists that a
formal request had not actually been presented. O
Globo reports that Figueiredo provided the same response as
President Rousseff on the matter, telling journalists that a request
“would be analyzed” if it were submitted in the future.
President Otto Perez Molina is seeing significant resistance to his
proposal for a national debate on extending presidential terms from four to
six years. While he did not formally submit a bill to reform term
Libre reports that legislative leaders of a majority of parties
in the country oppose the move, including lawmakers of Perez Molina’s own
President Raul Castro quietly
marked his 83rd birthday yesterday, a milestone the AP claims
serves as a reminder that "his revolutionary generation's time in
power is limited." His older brother Fidel is also in headlines
today, for emerging from a month-long silence to lament the recent death
of a star volleyball coach in a brief
statement for state newspaper Granma.
Politics and Human Rights highlights researcher Lissette
Gonzalez's analysis of the country's recently-released poverty figures,
which local human rights group PROVEA has held up as a sign that social
and economic rights in the country are slipping. Gonzalez discusses
various patterns of variation in the available poverty data, before
ultimately concluding that the overall trend shows "steady progress
in poverty reduction through the first semester of 2009 and stagnation
- Reuters reports
that Caracas' wealthy Chacao district, a hotbed of recent opposition
protests, is sponsoring an artistic contest encouraging participants to
use tear gas canisters as a medium to honor the recent demonstrations,
converting “instruments of repression into a tool of peaceful protest.”
for Project Syndicate, former Chilean economic advisor Andres Velasco
attempts to apply Thomas Piketty's hugely popular new work, "Capital
in the Twenty-First Century," to Latin America. While he acknowledges
the region's massive inequality, Velasco asserts that a dramatic progressive
income tax -- Piketty's primary policy proposal -- alone would not solve
the problem. Instead, he argues that reforms are needed to industry,
education and labor markets to address the root causes of inequality in