Press Release

IACHR Presents its Strategic Plan 2017-2021

April 28, 2017

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today is publishing its Strategic Plan for the 2017-2021 period. Strategic Plan 21 is the Commission's main institutional management tool; it establishes the priorities the IACHR will implement to successfully fulfill its mission and face current and future challenges for addressing and protecting human rights in the Americas. Strategic Plan 21, which will guide the work of the IACHR through the year 2021, is organized around five strategic objectives and 21 work programs.

"The creation of this Strategic Plan that will guide our actions in the coming years is the result of an extensive process that has been participatory, transparent, and democratic," said the President of the IACHR, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren Praeli. "This process has given us an essential instrument, one that can rise to the current and future human rights challenges in the region."

In the course of more than a year of preparing the Strategic Plan, the Commission held public consultations, workshops, meetings, interviews, and other activities, in a process that involved 536 individuals and 343 entities. "This process of preparation and consultations resulted in a profound institutional learning experience," said Commissioner James Cavallaro, who chaired the IACHR during the preparation process and participated in each of the regional consultations. "This participatory process enabled the IACHR to identify relevant issues and effective proposals it should carry out to address human rights issues in the region," the former IACHR President said. Through an ongoing learning process, the IACHR took into account the achievements, lessons learned, and challenges in the implementation of its first Strategic Plan, for 2011-2015.

The First Vice-President of the IACHR, Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, noted the importance of having a Strategic Plan that has been designed and drafted with feedback from all relevant actors in the inter-American human rights system, providing a holistic vision to guide the Commission's work. "We listened to the points of view of States and of civil society organizations, we listened to victims who have used the system to access justice and petitioners who have cases pending before us, as well as academics, experts, and former Commissioners who shared their experience. We have drawn sustenance from all these voices and learned from them, and the final result reflects the concerns, needs, and perspectives of all sectors," Commissioner Macaulay said.

The new Strategic Plan lays out a comprehensive strategy through the definition of five strategic objectives and 21 work plans, to enable the Commission to coordinate its mandates, functions, and mechanisms so as to prevent setbacks and proactively strengthen the implementation of human rights.

"All the work carried out jointly and cooperatively with a wide diversity of actors to define the Commission's objectives and work plans was designed to improve the effectiveness of the inter-American human rights system," noted the Second Vice-President of the IACHR, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño. "This is a fundamental pillar of Strategic Plan 21, and a shared commitment of the Americas, because the greater the efficiency of the system in general, and of the Commission in particular, the greater the human rights protection will be for the people of the Americas. And that is the ultimate reason this body exists," she added.

The first strategic objective seeks to contribute to the development of more effective, timely, and accessible inter-American justice, in order to overcome practices of impunity in the region and achieve comprehensive reparation for victims. "The IACHR has a unique mechanism for protecting human rights in the region, which is the petition and case system," Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco said on this point. "The Commission examines individual petitions alleging human rights violations that may have occurred under the jurisdiction of any of the 35 member countries of the OAS, which is a unique characteristic. Through this system of individual petitions, victims of human rights violations can obtain measures for justice and redress, whether through a report on the merits issued by the Commission, a friendly settlement between the parties, or litigation of the case before the Inter-American Court," he said. "That is why the first strategic objective seeks to reduce and ultimately resolve the procedural delay in the system," he explained.

Through the second strategic objective, the IACHR seeks to have an impact on prevention measures and the factors that lead to human rights violations. "The monitoring work that the IACHR carries out is essential to preventing human rights violations through the identification of risk factors and structural, systematic, or emerging situations that have or could have an impact on the full enjoyment of human rights," explained Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi. "This includes strengthening the identification and analysis capacity we have in place so that we can provide more timely and appropriate responses and thus address risk situations immediately, expanding the preventive role of the IACHR," he added. "We want to make a real impact in identifying possible human rights violations and acting to prevent these violations from occurring."

The third objective seeks to promote democracy, human dignity, equality, justice, and fundamental freedoms based on actively contributing to the strengthening of State institutions and public policies with a human rights approach, in accordance with inter-American norms and standards, and helping to develop the capacities of social and academic organizations and networks to act in defense of human rights. Along these lines, Commissioner James Cavallaro said this aspect of Strategic Plan 21 has to do with the ongoing challenge in the region to strengthen States' democratic institutions. "The IACHR is interested in working collaboratively with all actors to proactively help make the high inter-American standards a reality in practice," Commissioner Cavallaro said. "The idea is to bring the standards down to earth and turn them into norms, laws, and public policies that are concrete and attainable, working in coordination with the relevant actors from the States and with networks of nongovernmental organizations and academics, taking into account that organized civil society is key in being able to achieve major breakthroughs in human rights," he added.

Through the fourth strategic objective, the IACHR will promote the universalization of the inter-American human rights system, working in coordination with the Inter-American Court and with other international, regional, and subregional agencies and mechanisms. The fifth objective seeks to guarantee the availability of all the needed resources to strengthen the Commission's institutional role with the goal of achieving a positive impact on the respect for human rights in the region, using results-based management for efficient, effective, and measurable institutional development. Along these lines, the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão, said, "Given the situation of decreasing availability of resources in the last few years, it will be necessary to modernize the management of our institution, become more efficient in our use of resources, and apply the results-based management methodology in a structural way."

Strategic Plan 21 also defines topics and populations that will be priorities for the IACHR in its work over the next few years. The priority population groups will be indigenous peoples; women; migrants, refugees, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, and internally displaced persons; Afro-descendants; children and adolescents; human rights defenders; persons deprived of liberty; lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex persons; persons with disabilities; and older persons. As to priority topics, the Strategic Plan includes three: the right to freedom of expression; economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights; and the right to memory, truth, and justice.

To achieve the five strategic objectives, Plan 21 establishes 20 programs. Special Program 21, meanwhile, cuts across the entire Strategic Plan and seeks to substantially improve the monitoring of IACHR recommendations to improve the level of effectiveness of the inter-American human rights system and have a transformative impact on the human rights situation for everyone in the Americas.

"One essential condition for the inter-American system to be effective is that States must implement the IACHR's recommendations and decisions," said President Eguiguren. "That is why, as a central component of the Plan's strategy, the IACHR intends to develop a cross-cutting program in which it expects to implement coordinated actions to follow up on recommendations. This will include the creation of a database of IACHR recommendations, for the development of an Inter-American System for Monitoring Recommendations," Commissioner Eguiguren noted.

The 21 work programs through which the IACHR will seek to reach its strategic objectives have been established along four logical lines: strategic measures linked to improving current practices; strategic measures designed to make a new contribution to, or reformulate, an area of action; measures to help overcome structural human rights challenges; and measures to improve and expand conditions for user access to the IACHR.

Each program has its own action plan which will be integrated into the IACHR Strategic Plan in order to design projects and raise supplementary funds for implementation. The implementation of the Strategic Plan will require additional funds beyond what the IACHR receives from the OAS regular fund. The Commission will therefore continue to work with donors, guaranteeing quality in the execution of its programs and projects, and recognizing the complexity of the existing financing structures.

The design of the Strategic Plan uses the principles of results-based management (RBM) in an effort to continually improve the institution. The strategic objectives and programs guide the changes the IACHR intends to adopt or develop in order to improve its operations and achieve the desired results.

Strategic Plan 21 institutionalizes the culture of strategic planning that the IACHR initiated under the previous Strategic Plan and in this way strengthens the organization itself so that it can optimize the use of resources, promote better coordination of its actions, optimize levels of efficiency, and account for the results achieved.

The IACHR appreciates the input, suggestions, and comments provided by civil society, social movements, academia, experts, and representatives of States in the participatory process that culminated with the preparation of this Strategic Plan. For the implementation process, the IACHR will continue to employ channels of constructive dialogue with the various actors in the inter-American system to help promote and protect human rights.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 054/17