ADF International

Human rights in Latin America undermined by international organizations, five member states claim

Summary

  • The Declaration of the Inter-American System calls for respect for national sovereignty
  • Principle of subsidiarity must not be further weakened by OAS and human rights court and commission

WASHINGTON D.C. / SANTIAGO DE CHILE (29 April 2019) –Are the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court staying true to their mandate? Together, the two institutions are known as the Inter-American System and have become a source for controversy throughout the Americas. This week, five countries from the region presented the Declaration of the Inter-American System to the public. It was presented to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in Washington D.C. earlier this month and calls for a review and reform of the Inter-American System.

“The OAS has a mandate to uphold international law, not to create its own interpretation of human rights. With their recent declaration, five Latin American countries have voiced their concern with the overreach of the OAS, its Inter-American Commission, and Inter-American Court. International organizations are supposed to protect fundamental freedoms and the inherent dignity of all people, not undermine them,” said Neydy Casillas, Senior Counsel for ADF International.

Reform of the Inter-American System necessary

The Declaration expresses concerns about the current regional human rights system due to it overstepping its original mandate. The actions of the Inter-American System, according to the original mandate, must respect both the constitutional and legal systems of the Member States, as well as the requirements of the rule of law. Therefore, countries have expressed the need for review and reform of the Inter-American System.

Only four weeks ago, the U.S. announced a cut in its funding to the Organization of American States (OAS), to which the Inter-American Commission belongs, for advancing an anti-life agenda. Now in their joint declaration Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, and Argentina call for respect for the autonomy of member states and the principles of subsidiarity.

Organization of American States pressuring governments into legalizing abortion

Last month, the US State Department announced a reduction of funding to the Organization of American States (OAS). In December, US senators raised concerns about the organization’s pressure on Latin American states to remove their protections for unborn life. In a letter to the State Department, they argued that US tax-payers’ money should not be used to advocate for or against abortion policies.

As detailed by the US senators, the Organization of American States has a history of intervening in the national sovereignty of Member States. Latin American states that have laws in place protecting the right to life have come under strong pressure and criticism to change their laws. In particular, the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court often act in a quasi-legislative manner. In doing so, the two OAS bodies overreach their mandate.

In 2017, more than 700 parliamentarians from Latin American countries signed the Mexico Declaration asking the OAS not to interfere in matters that are the sovereign responsibility of nation states.

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