Clinic News

New Report on Urgent Measures Issued by Human Rights Bodies (12/07/12)

OAS Official Photo
OAS Official Photo

BERKELEY, CA. – December 7, 2012 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is the primary human rights organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), the oldest regional body in the world.  It serves as the last recourse to justice for people of the Americas. As part of its mission to promote human rights, the IACHR has issued emergency orders, called precautionary measures, to protect thousands from grave harm.  However, this response to urgent human rights situations has recently come under intense scrutiny by OAS Member States and is the focus of recent proposals to curtail the powers of the IACHR.   

The International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) in collaboration with the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) conducted a comparative study on the use of precautionary measures by international human rights bodies. The report analyzes the international legal framework regarding precautionary measures and compares the standards and practices of the IACHR to those of other human rights bodies.  The report covers legal trends with respect to sources of authority, procedural mechanisms, and the scope of rights protected.  

The IACHR has used precautionary measures for decades in a variety of contexts in which individuals were at grave risk of immediate and irreparable harm.  For example, the IACHR has ordered States to halt executions, safeguard the property rights of indigenous peoples, and to protect judges, witnesses and human rights defenders.  

The study concludes that the approach of the IACHR is consistent with international practice. The reforms proposed by the Permanent Council are not required for the IACHR to harmonize its standards and practices with those developed by all other human right bodies.  

This report was presented at a meeting of civil society before the OAS Permanent Council on December 7, 2012, at the headquarters of the regional body in Washington, D.C.