A Balanced Composition of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has the main function of promoting the observance and defense of human rights in the Americas. It is also a pioneer in actively participating in the creation of a volume of international jurisprudence on women’s rights with a regional and global impact, leading the way in the discourse of women’s international human rights.

It is an appropriate opportunity to greet the IACHR, its members and, especially, to the three new Commissioners selected by the OAS General Assembly to integrate the Commission for the 2020-2024 term.

A balanced composition of the commission in terms of gender integration, representation of the different geographical regions, population groups, and legal systems, is a criterion that has been established, and maintained, in General Assembly resolutions, since the year 2015 at least. All of which is added to the criteria of suitability, independence, and impartiality of the candidates.

A group of independent experts, in an effort to promote a transparent and impartial selection process for the most important human rights body in the region, evaluated the candidates proposed by Member States. After this process, Dr. Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño (Panama); IAWJ member , Dr. Margarette May Macaulay (Jamaica); both renewing their mandates for a second term, and Julissa Mantilla Falcón (Peru) have been selected. Congratulations!

That is to say that, starting on January 1, 2020, the IACHR will be composed by the commissioners mentioned, along with Dr. Antonia Urrejola Noguera (Chile), Dr. Flavia Piovesan (Brazil), Dr. Joel Hernández García (México), and Dr. Edgard Stuardo Ralón (Guatemala).

It is unprecedented, and a reason to celebrate, that starting next year this international organization will be composed of 5 women and 2 men. During its 60 years of existence, it has been integrated by 77 members, in which women have been historically underrepresented with only 16 in top positions.

The lack of gender balance affects virtually all international courts and UN monitoring mechanisms. A balanced gender representation enriches decisions, giving visibility to different perspectives and experiences, while contributing to addressing problems that might otherwise be absent or overlooked.

An appropriate gender representation in the IACHR is an explicit declaration of an institutional commitment to gender equality that we must celebrate! 

This blog post was written by IAWJ and Association of Women Judges of Argentina member, Ms. Andrea Cristina Di Gregorio.