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Updated 06/23/2006

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, along with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, is one of two supervisory bodies in the Inter-American Human Rights system of the regional Organization of American States (OAS).   

The commission was established in 1959 in response to political instability in the Americas. Its primary function is to protect and promote human rights in the region. The commission monitors human rights situations in OAS member states, publishes reports and makes recommendations to further human rights in member states and in the region. In 1965, the OAS General Assembly granted the commission the power to receive individual petitions. The commission investigates these allegations and makes subsequent recommendations, at times referring cases to the Inter-American Court. 

There are seven commissioners who are elected by the OAS General Assembly to terms of four years. The commissioners meet 8 weeks out of the year at the commission’s headquarters in Washington, DC. 

In addition to reviewing specific cases of human rights abuse, the commission has drafted various human rights treaties for the OAS including the American Convention against Torture.  The commission also raises awareness about human rights issues through various conferences, seminars and reports. 

For more information

Web site of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights