Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (IACHR)

Washington, D.C. United States
Thematic Area
The Search Process
Human Rights
Country of operation
United States
Region of operation
The Americas
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The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (“OAS”) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere. It is composed of seven independent members who serve in a personal capacity. Created by the OAS in 1959, the Commission has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Together with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (“the Court” or “the I/A Court H.R.), installed in 1979, the Commission is one of the institutions within the inter-American system for the protection of human rights (“IAHRS”).

The formal beginning of the IAHRS was approval of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man at the Ninth International Conference of American States held in Bogota in 1948. There the OAS Charter (hereinafter “the Charter”) was adopted, which declares that one of the principles upon which the Organization is founded is the “fundamental rights of the individual.”

Full respect for human rights appears in several sections of the Charter, underscoring the importance that the Member States attach to it. In the words of the Charter, “the true significance of American solidarity and good neighborliness can only mean the consolidation on this continent, within the framework of democratic institutions, of a system of individual liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man.” The Charter establishes the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as one of the principal organs of the OAS whose function is to promote the observance and protection of human rights and to serve as a consultative organ of the Organization in these matters.

The work of the IACHR rests on three main pillars:

  • the individual petition system;
  • monitoring of the human rights situation in the Member States, and
  • the attention devoted to priority thematic areas.

Operating within this framework, the Commission considers that inasmuch as the rights of all persons subject to the jurisdiction of the Member States are to be protected, special attention must be devoted to those populations, communities and groups that have historically been the targets of discrimination. However, the Commission’s work is also informed by other principles, among them the following: the pro homine principle, whereby a law must be interpreted in the manner most advantageous to the human being; the necessity of access to justice, and the inclusion of the gender perspective in all Commission activities.

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