Friday, February 04, 2005

Latin American retreat on human rights?

As I've noted before, there's talk of an alternative Latin American body that would pronounce itself on human rights issues, something that might run interference with the good work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). There were already rumblings of this tendency when the dethroned Miguel Angel Rodríguez of Costa Rica, the former SG who resigned over a corruption scandal, tried to weaken the IACHR, a move which has been put on hold by interim secretary general Luigi Einaudi. Marcela Sanchez wrote on this subject yesterday, also worried about its potential impact:

It is understandable that Latin American officials have grown fond of regional mechanisms, in part because they provide greater independence from Washington. This alone can be a good thing, allowing governments in the region to assert themselves and demonstrate that independence doesn't mean laxity.

But when officials have grown so fond of such mechanisms that they intend to use them to counter any criticism -- or worse, distort reality -- they go too far. It's one thing to decry unilateral finger-pointing. It's something altogether different to attempt to undermine a multilateral system, including the IACHR, that has proved its effectiveness.

Earlier this week the UCA radio station scored Francisco Flores' recent speech to the OAS (promoting his candidacy for secretary general) as hinting at support for a revamping of the inter-american system. I haven't been able to find a copy of the speech to get the precise details, however, just a press release on the OAS site.

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