Declaration on the Special Summit of the Americas by the International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas

Spanish Version

Full respect for Inter-American Human Rights System essential to OAS: Declaration

MEXICO CITY – January 12, 2004– Human rights are a pivotal issue and a basic condition for equitable economic growth, social development, and democratic governance – the key themes of the Special Summit of the Americas.

Full respect for human rights, their preeminence over trade agreements, and the mechanisms for their protection, particularly the strengthening of the Inter-American Human Rights System, are fundamental to the achievement of the Summit’s objectives, as is the participation of civil society in national and hemispheric processes.

The Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) have repeatedly expressed their commitment to full respect for human rights. They did so when they signed the Charter of the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter and when most signed the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. Their commitment has been conducive to important progress, but there has not been thorough compliance with the principles contained in the above documents. Therefore, the Coalition calls upon the States to review pending action in order to strengthen democracy and achieve economic and social development in the countries of the region. The democracies of the Americas demand that civil society be given a more active role in national and hemispheric processes.

Consequently, in consideration of the key themes of the Special Summit, and for the purpose of full compliance with the commitments that have been made, the Coalition has issued a declaration urging all member States to include the following forms of action in their final declaration:

  • Strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System. Despite its inclusion in the action plans resulting from the different summits of the Americas, in resolutions from different sessions of the General Assembly of the OAS, and in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, there has not been thorough compliance with this commitment
  • The Preeminence of Human Rights. To ensure that the objectives of the Summit are achieved, all agreements on free trade and economic integration should be subject to international human rights guidelines and standards, such as the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and its protocols.
  • Participation on the part of civil society. Participation by civil society in all activities that are important for the development of States – particularly in the process of creating, implementing, and monitoring free-trade agreements – is an integral component of democracy in this hemisphere.

For the complete text of the Declaration and a list of its signatories, please click here.