NEW YORK—An independent expert panel will assess the national nominees standing this June for election to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), in a continuing effort by civil society groups to promote a more transparent selection process for the influential regional human rights body.
This year, three judges will be chosen from four candidates during the general assembly of the Organization of American States, which will be held in Washington, D.C., from June 4 to 6.
The four candidates are:
- Nardi Elizabeth Suxo Iturry (Bolivia)
- Humberto Sierra Porto (Colombia)
- Ricardo Pérez Manrique (Uruguay)
- Eduardo Ferrer MacGregor (Mexico)
The creation of the independent panel is part of an effort first launched in 2015 to shed more light on a selection process that continues to lack transparency, while offering an independent assessment of the candidates standing for election.
The 2018 panel is composed of four renowned jurists and academics from the human rights community: Carlos Ayala (Venezuela), Ximena Medellín (Mexico), Juan Mendez (Argentina), and Naomi Roht-Arriaza (United States). For the first time, the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law of the American University’s Washington College of Law will serve as the secretariat for the panel. The panel’s deliberations, analysis, and conclusions—which are independent from the convening and endorsing organizations—will be included in a report to be released at the end of May.
Although the Organization of American States passed resolutions in 2016 and 2017 calling for the public presentation of candidates to the commission and court—“to describe in greater detail their vision, proposals, and the initiatives that they would undertake if elected”—it has yet to appoint an independent advisory committee to provide competent, fair, and independent assessments of all nominees, as both the 2015 and 2017 panels have recommended. Similar bodies exist to monitor selection processes to other leading international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court.
Established in 1979, the Inter-American Court is tasked with safeguarding the rights guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights through its judgments, advisory opinions, and provisional measures. Together with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the court has played a major role in the protection of human rights across the region and helped shape the development of international human rights law around the world.
This year’s panel has again been convened by the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Due Process of Law Foundation, and the Center for Justice and International Law, with the support of many NGOs, universities, and bar associations throughout the region (see list of initial supporters below). These organizations share a common commitment to strengthening the Inter-American human rights system through the principle of fair, transparent, and inclusive elections, and through the nomination of qualified and independent candidates.
The three judges elected will be part of the IACHR after the mandates of Humberto Sierra Porto (Colombia), Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor (Mexico), and Roberto Caldas (Brazil) end.