Press Release

IACHR Expands and Strengthens Its Institutional Structure

August 17, 2017

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announces that it has a new structure that will strengthen the institution. On July 26, 2017, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) signed Executive Order 17-06, which expands the administrative structure of the IACHR Executive Secretariat and secures new positions so that the Commission can continue to carry out its functions and meet the objectives laid out in the IACHR Strategic Plan 2017-2021. The IACHR supported the new administrative structure proposed by the Executive Secretariat, and the OAS Secretary General authorized it for administrative and financial purposes and published the Executive Order for immediate implementation.

The new organizational chart of the IACHR Executive Secretariat is based on the Strategic Plan, which established—under Program 17—that there would be a “review of the administrative structure that reflects a more comprehensive and horizontal design.” Under the new structure, the Executive Secretariat will be supported by two specific Assistant Executive Secretariats to carry out the essential functions of human rights protection, monitoring, and technical cooperation in the Americas.

The new administrative structure is divided into three major areas: an Assistant Executive Secretariat for Cases, Petitions and Precautionary Measures; an Assistant Executive Secretariat for Monitoring, Promotion and Technical Cooperation on Human Rights; and the Chief of the Executive Secretary’s Office.

The Assistant Executive Secretariat for Cases, Petitions and Precautionary Measures will focus on prioritizing the petition and case system and precautionary measures. The main innovations in this area include: integrating the section on precautionary measures with the team that handles the case system, and strengthening this area; creating a unit for processing, in line with Program 1 of the Strategic Plan, the Special Procedural Delay Reduction Program; strengthening the section on friendly settlements, in line with Program 2; and the dedication of one of the two Assistant Executive Secretariats to this subject, reflecting the priority the Strategic Plan gives to the case system and to the reduction of procedural delay.    

The Assistant Executive Secretariat for Monitoring, Promotion and Technical Cooperation on Human Rights will integrate activities to monitor priority themes with the monitoring of countries and cross-cutting themes from the Strategic Plan. The new structure creates a section that will focus on compliance with recommendations, in line with Program 21, the Special Program to Monitor IACHR Recommendations. “The main challenge for an international protection system is to further the effective implementation of its standards and recommendations. The implementation of inter-American human rights standards often fails to move forward because of States’ institutional obstacles, such as the absence of inter-institutional coordination mechanisms to address human rights issues holistically. The IACHR is taking on the responsibility of cooperating with the States of the region to help develop roadmaps for compliance with the recommendations of the IACHR,” said the President of the Commission, Francisco Eguiguren. This Assistant Executive Secretariat also includes the existing sections on technical cooperation and public policies, and on promotion and training.

The Office of the Executive Secretariat will carry out functions related to coordination, advisory support, and administration through the Chief of the Executive Secretary’s Office, who is responsible for all actions to coordinate the Commission’s work internally; for the policy of transparency, management, and access to information; for the press and communications office; and for special projects, including the Rapid and Integrated Response Coordination Unit. For its part, the Office of Specialized Advisors is responsible for relations with other agencies and international human rights systems, and with the political bodies of the OAS, and it will also handle special activities geared toward the Caribbean region; these areas are established in Programs 10, 13, 14, 15, and 16 of the Strategic Plan. The Office of Management, Planning and Finance is strengthened by having a Center for Attention to Users of the System, as provided under Program 20 of the Strategic Plan.

The new organizational structure of the Executive Secretariat incorporates elements of results-based management and modernizes its operations, creating a more horizontal and agile organizational chart. Instead of having five departments and five levels of hierarchy, it will be structured around two Assistant Executive Secretariats and three levels of hierarchy.

“The new organizational architecture of the Executive Secretariat seeks to facilitate the work flows and enable decision-making processes that are faster and better coordinated,” summarized the President of the IACHR, Francisco Eguiguren.

The new structure of the IACHR is possible only because of the OAS General Assembly’s decision to double the portion of the OAS Regular Fund allocated to the inter-American human rights system over the next three years. The budget increase will ensure that the IACHR can have a minimum number of permanent staff needed to fulfill the comprehensive mandate of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and overcome the instability and uncertainty that characterized its financial crisis in 2016.

“This change of structure is part of a broader, interconnected process. The new Strategic Plan designed through a participatory process that defined an agenda, a shared institutional vision, and measurable and achievable expected results; combined with the States’ positive response in the form of a budget increase, and now the General Secretariat’s support to create a structure that reflects the first two factors; together result in more autonomy and independence for the IACHR,” explained IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão.

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 and to defend 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. 123/17