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Program Team
IHRLG STRATEGIC HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERING INITIATIVE
IHRLG and the Organization of American States / Inter-American System
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Since 1992, IHRLG has maintained a consistent presence at meetings of the political bodies of the Organization of American States. We have monitored the OAS and published an annual comprehensive report on its performance with respect to human rights and democracy since 1994.

Until recently, access to this international institution, where the tasks of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights are decided, was denied to NGOs, cutting them off from any significant interaction with governmental authorities and the preparation of human rights standards. Since the early 1990s, IHRLG has mobilized NGOs and advocated in a number of countries in Latin America to allow these groups access to and a voice within the OAS, in order to strengthen civil society and open this traditionally closed international organization to public scrutiny.

A significant victory was achieved in December 1999 when the Permanent Council of the OAS approved guidelines to establish consultative status for non-governmental organizations at the OAS. In September 2001, IHRLG and other NGOs involved in the documentation elaboration process related to the draft text of the Inter-American Democratic Charter celebrated the inclusion of IHRLG's proposed article about racial discrimination as Article 9 of the final Charter.

IHRLG has been involved in litigating numerous cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights since 1978. Recent successes include

Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua (1998)
IHRLG, in partnership with other NGOs, filed an amicus curiae to the Inter-American Court in 1999 regarding the government's plan to grant a logging concession to a Korean logging company without consulting the Mayagna Indian Community of Awas Tingni. Our brief argued that the rights of this indigenous community are protected under the American Convention of Human Rights and other international human rights documents. Presented by the Commission in 1998, this is the first indigenous rights case addressed by the Inter-American Court. In September 2001, in an internationally precedent-setting decision and marking a great victory for the communities of the Atlantic Coast, the court ordered the government to demarcate the traditional lands of the Awas Tingni and to establish legal mechanisms to demarcate traditional lands of all indigenous communities in Nicaragua. It also ordered payment of 50,000US$ in compensation to the Awas Tingni.
Nicholas C. Blake v. Guatemala (1995)
IHRLG served as an advisor in this case before the Inter-American Court involving the murder of Nicholas Blake, a US journalist working in Guatemala. The Court found that Guatemala violated the American Convention on Human Rights by participating in the "disappearance" of Mr. Blake, covering up evidence of the crime and failing to investigate or prosecute those who were responsible for his death. In compliance with the Court's decision in January 2000, Guatemala condemned one of the authors of the forced disappearance to 28 years in prison. In March 2000, the government of Guatemala paid over 172,000US$ in compensation to the Blake family.

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Related Material
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arrow IHRLG 2001-2002 OAS report (en espaņol) (PDF)
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arrow IHRLG 2000-2001 OAS report (en espaņol) (PDF)
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arrow IHRLG legal assessment of the proposed Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (PDF)
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arrow Executive summary of IHRLG legal assessment on the proposed Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (PDF)
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