Civil Society Letter to President of the Permanent Council

Transparency in the OAS

Distinguished Ambassador Pary Rodríguez:


The signatory organizations address your office in order to express our concern about the lack of Civil Society participation in the above-mentioned process, an issue that we consider of great importance.

As already known to you, during the OAS General Assembly, which took place this past June in Cochabamba, Bolivia, the regional States approved Resolution AG/RES.2761 in which they welcomed the report of the Special Working Group to Reflect on the Workings of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with a View to Strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System.  Additionally, the Resolution instructed the Permanent Council, on the basis of the report, “to draw up proposals for its application in dialogue with all the parties involved,”[1] further providing that said proposals should be presented for consideration before a Special Session of the General Assembly no later than the first quarter of 2013.

In accordance with this mandate, the Permanent Council included this issue in its regular meeting this past June 28th, establishing the formal initiation of the process.  Several days later, the OAS Secretariat for External Relations, through its Department of International Affairs, publicly announced this decision, informing Civil Society that the “Permanent Council will hold informal meetings to define its methodology, work plan, agenda and the manner of consultation.”[2]

In this regard, the signatory organizations consider that the manner in which Civil Society participation has been incorporated into the discussions ordered by the General Assembly in its Resolution does not constitute a process of real and effective participation consistent with the principles the OAS has established on the issue.

The OAS has recognized on numerous occasions the importance of the participation of Civil Society organizations.  In fact, the Inter-American Democratic Charter reaffirms the principle that the promotion of Civil Society participation in OAS activities strengthens democratic institutions in the region; similarly and on the occasion of the 5th Summit of the Americas, held in Puerto España, the regional heads of State expressed their commitment to stimulating full participation of Civil Society in the Inter-American System (¶ 94).[3]

More recently, during the last General Assembly, the States of the region adopted Resolution AG/RES. 2736 (XLII-O/12),[4] in which they committed to broadening and guaranteeing dialogue with and participation of civil society through various means.

In light of the above and given the importance of the issue being discussed by the Permanent Council, namely the strengthening of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the signatory organizations consider that the resulting process to be adopted must ensure adequate means, opportunities and forums so that the participation of Civil Society may be real and effective and guarantee a true dialogue amongst all parties involved.

In this sense, we respectfully appeal for the re-adoption of the standards fixed by the General Assembly with respect to Civil Society participation and that, at minimum, the following be guaranteed:

  • Transparent discussions at the regional level (within the Permanent Council or other instance at the OAS), as well as within the States;
  • Consultative procedures are implemented in the States, extending beyond country capitals particularly in larger countries where it may be more difficult for Civil Society to respond to invitations in the capital;
  • Recognition of the value of using resources from the Specific Fund to finance the participation of Civil Society organizations and other social actors in discussions about the issue of strengthening the Inter-American Commission  To contemplate and implement innovative methods, other than in-person interventions during the Permanent Council sessions that go beyond the formal circulation of documents.  Tools such as real-time long distance participation and live webcast transmissions of all discussions should be guaranteed as a minimum to enable informed contributions with respect to the various issues that are discussed
  • Ensure a dynamic that facilitates dialogue during meetings and in each of the debates established by the Permanent Council that would not only be by formal written participation.  It is clear that participation cannot be reduced to occasional moments, but rather must be ensured throughout the process, something which was not previously guaranteed in the procedures prior to the discussion of the Working Group report.  Given that the very same day the IACHR was still conducting hearings, numerous organizations and civil servants from various countries were unable to participate in the so-called dialogue[5]

Based on the aforementioned, we consider it critical that, as a minimum and prior to any substantive discussion on the issue, during the upcoming session of the Permanent Council, a methodology can be worked out that establishes means for disseminating information, a delineation of the various actors involved in the discussion on strengthening the Inter-American Commission, an identification of forums for real participation, as well as a calendar of meeting and events that will be held in Washington, as well as within the States during the coming months.

We wish to insist on the need to generate opportunities for effective participation on each of the discussion points and in each of the meetings held on this issue concerning the continuity of the Inter-American System for the protection of human rights.

The signatory organizations respectfully request that we be heard by the States and that our opinions and contributions be taken into account, not only when the recommendations of the Working Group report are discussed, but also when methodological and scheduling issues need to be resolved.

We thank you in advance for your attention and look forward to your response.


cc. José Miguel Insulza. Secretary General of the OAS.

cc. José de Jesús Orozco, President, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.


Signatory Organizations


Amazon Watch

Amnistía Internacional

Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA)

Campaña por una Convención Interamericana por los Derechos Sexuales y los Derechos Reproductivos

Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)

Coalición LGBTTTI Trabajando en la OEA

Comité de América Latina y el Caribe por la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (CLADEM)

Confluencia Feminista Mesoamericana Las Petateras

International Pregnancy Advisory Services (Servicios Internacionales de Asesoría sobre el Embarazo) IPAS – Centroamérica

Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)

Red latinoamericana y caribeña por la defensa de los derechos de los niños, niñas y adolescentes (Redlamyc)

Servicio Paz y Justicia en América Latina (SERPAJ – AL)



Oficina Jurídica Para la Mujer



Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais - Rio de Janeiro

ISER- Instituto de Estudos da Religião


Corporación Humanas



Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR)

Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (CCJ)

Corporación para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos REINICIAR

Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos Humanos (GIDH)

Peace Brigades International - Colombia Project


Costa Rica

Alianza por tus Derechos



Acción Ecológica

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S. J.” (CSMM)

Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU)

Fundación Pachamama


El Salvador

Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niños y Niñas Desaparecidos (PROBUSQUEDA)

Comité de Familiares de Migrantes Fallecidos y Desaparecidos de El Salvador (COFAMIDE)

Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD)

Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” (IDHUCA)

Instituto de Estudios de la Mujer "Norma Virginia Guirola de Herrera" (CEMUJER)

Organización de Mujeres Salvadoreñas (ORMUSA)


Estados Unidos

Human Rights Clinic, University of Texas

US Office on Colombia

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)


Fundación Myrna Mack, Guatemala

Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala (ICCPG)

Movimiento Social por los Derechos de la Niñez, Adolescencia y Juventud en Guatemala (90 organizaciones)

Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos



Asociación Cooperación Técnica Nacional (CTN)

Asociación de Jueces por la Democracia (AJD)

Asociación LGTB Arco Iris

Asociación para una vida mejor de personas infectadas/afectadas por el VIH-Sida en Honduras (APUVIMEH)

Casa Alianza

Centro de Investigación para la Prevención de la Violencia

Centro de Investigación y Promoción de Derechos Humanos en Honduras (CIPRODEH)

Centro para la prevención, tratamiento y rehabilitación de las víctimas de tortura y sus familiares (CPTRT)

Coalición Nacional de Mujeres de Honduras (CONAMUH)

Colectiva de Mujeres Hondureñas (CODEMUH)

Comité de Derechos Humanos de Honduras (CODEH)

Comité por la Libre Expresión  (C-LIBRE), Honduras

Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos de la Zona Nor Occidental

Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús (ERIC)

Foro de Mujeres por la Vida

Foro Nacional para las Migraciones de Honduras (FONAMIH)

Gran Alianza por OMOA

Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla

Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras (OFRANEH)

Tribuna de Mujeres contra los Femicidios



Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, A. C.

Acción Urgente para Defensores de los Derechos Humanos, A.C. (ACCUDEH)

Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”, A.C. (Tlachinollan)

Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres, A. C.  (CEDHEM)

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas A.C.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, A.C. (Prodh)

Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, A.C. (CEMDA)

Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos, A.C. (CADHAC)

Comisión de Solidaridad y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, A.C. (COSYDDHAC)

Comité de Defensa Integral de Derechos Humanos Gobixha (Código DH)

Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho

Grupo de Mujeres de San Cristóbal de las Casas, A.C.

i(dh)eas, Litigio Estratégico en Derechos Humanos, A.C. (IDHEAS)

Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos "Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos" integrada por 71 organizaciones en 21 estados de la República mexicana.

Servicios Legales e Investigación y Estudios Jurídicos (SLIEJ)



Casa Alianza

Centro de Asistencia Legal a Pueblos Indígenas (CALPI)

Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud (SISAS)

Centro de Investigaciones de la Comunicación (CINCO)

Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)

Comisión Permanente de Derechos Humanos (CPDH)

FIBRAS/Movimiento por Nicaragua

Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres

Movimiento contra el abuso sexual

Movimiento Feminista de Nicaragua

Oficina de asistencia técnica para el desarrollo y la equidad (CIFEM), Nicaragua

Red de Mujeres contra la Violencia


Alianza Ciudadana Pro Justicia, Panamá

Centro de Asistencia Legal Popular (CEALP)

Centro de Incidencia Ambiental (CIAM)

Centro de Iniciativas Democráticas (CIDEM)

Instituto de Derecho Agrario, Ambiental e Indígena



BASE Investigaciones Sociales,

Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ)

Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY)



Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (Aprodeh)

CEDAL-Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo

Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos



Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR)



Acción Solidaria en VIH/Sida

Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello

Civilis Derechos Humanos

Comité de Familiares de las Víctimas de los sucesos ocurridos entre el 27 de febrero y los primeros días de marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC)

Espacio Público

Programa Venezolano de Educación – Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)

Sinergia, Asociación Venezolana de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil

Vicaría de Derechos Humanos de Caracas


[1] AG/RES. 2761 (XLII-O/12), Follow-up on the Recommendations Contained in the “Report of the Special Working Group to Reflect on the Workings of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with a View to strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System,” adopted at the fourth plenary session of the General Assembly in Bolivia, held on June 5, 2012.  Paragraph two establishes, “To instruct the Permanent Council, on the basis of the report, to draw up proposals for its application in dialogue with all the parties involved.”

[2] Email dated July 5, 2012 disseminated through the list by the Directorship of the Department of International Affairs, of the OAS Secretariat for External Relations, titled, “OEA - Consulta - Recomendaciones sobre el Funcionamiento de la CIDH y el Fortalecimiento del SIDH | OAS - Consultation - Recommendations on the Functioning of the IACHR and the Strengthening of the IASHR”.

[3] “We commit to continue encouraging the participation of our peoples, through the engagement of our citizens, communities and civil society in the design and execution of development policies and programs, by providing technical and financial assistance, as appropriate, and in accordance with national legislation to strengthen and build their capacity to participate more fully in the inter-American system.” Puerto España Declaration, 2009, ¶ 94, available at

[4] OAS. Increasing and Strengthening the Participation of civil society and Social Actors in the Activities of the Organization of American States. AG/RES. 2736 (XLII-O/12), adopted at the second plenary session, held on June 4, 2012.

[5] In that respect, according the calendar of IACHR sessions, that same day, hearings were held in relation to Canada, Haiti, Chile, Brasil, Panama, and El Salvador, as well as regional hearings on the situation of human rights of LGBTI persons in the Americas; citizen security and human rights in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; the situation of human rights of afro-descendant women in Latin America; situation of the right to freedom of association in the Americas; and the situation of human rights defenders in Mesoamerica.  For more information on the 143rd period of IACHR sessions, see: