Deepening engagement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Members from the Strategic Litigation Working Group (SLWG) and the Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG), convened in Bogota, Colombia for the 167th Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Amnesty International, Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), Center for Reproductive Rights, Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL), Conectas, Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR), Justiça Global, Dejusticia, Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), FIAN International and International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) were among members present.

On 1 March, members held a strategy meeting to discuss and coordinate interactions with the IACHR. In advance of the meeting, members collectively developed a discussion paper that contained recommendations for policy and practice changes to strengthen implementation of ESCR decisions. Daniel Cerqueira (DPLF) outlined the key points, incorporated by members in the discussion paper, to be submitted to the IACHR later that evening.

ESCR-Net Program Coordinator Alexandra Montgomery discussed prior interactions between CAWG and the Special Rapporteur on economic, social, cultural and environmental rights (ESCER) and further opportunities for CAWG members to engage collectively and individually with the mandate-holder.

Members then considered key themes to be emphasized in the public hearing on business and human rights that would take place the following day. Emphasis was placed on the need to address the issue of corporate capture and the threat that it could pose to the IACHR. Concern was expressed about the current trend of human rights mechanisms seeking funds from the corporate sector (with reference to a recently announced partnership between Microsoft and OHCHR) and the danger that this could present to the independence of the IACHR.

That evening, members of the SLWG met to discuss their concerns regarding challenges to the effective implementation of IACHR’s recommendations in the region. They were joined by IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão, IACHR Adjunct Executive Secretary Maria Claudia Pulido and Special Rapporteur on ESCER Soledad García Muñoz.

IACHR Executive Secretariat members expressed appreciation for the publication and suggested that many of the recommendations are in-line with their internal discussions. Parties to the meeting underscored the importance of the collaboration between this body and ESCR-Net, both regarding the implementation of recommendations and generally in advancing ESCR in the Americas; both of these being priorities for the Commission’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan.

During the public hearings held by the IACHR on 2 March, several Network members made coordinated interventions. Other members and allies simultaneously demonstrated in front of the venue to call attention to corporate capture issues and the undue influence of corporations in the human rights field.

ESCR-Net’s participation at the IACHR concluded with a well-attended side event at the Universidad El Externado de Colombia, titled “Recent developments in the Jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court on the justiciability of the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.” The parallel event was moderated by Diana Guarnizo from Dejusticia and featured ESCR-Net member Tara Melish and Rodrigo Uprimny, founder of Dejusticia and member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Read the discussion paper on the Implementation of decisions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights