States should elect members of the IACHR taking gender parity into account

At the next General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) to be held in June 2023, the States Parties of the organization must elect four members to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a fundamental body for the protection and promotion of human rights in the hemisphere. The GQUAL Campaign urges the States to vote for the new membership, ensuring that the result contributes to sustaining the existing gender parity in the body, while ensuring a membership consistent with the criteria of representativeness, geographic balance, independence, impartiality, high moral authority, and recognized expertise in human rights.

There are four vacancies available at the IACHR, three of which are currently occupied by women. To fill these positions – and following the withdrawal of four nominations by States – the voting will be among a group of six nominees, three of whom are women. Given the remaining composition of two male and one female commissioner, the States must ensure the election of at least two women in order to maintain the gender parity achieved in the IACHR and to comply with the commitments made at the last General Assembly.

The most recent 52nd General Assembly, held in Peru in October 2022, adopted Resolution AG/CG/doc.10/22 r., which in its Section xxvi on “Gender parity and geographical representation and representation of different legal systems in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights,” establishes the importance of achieving and sustaining gender parity, geographical balance, representation of different population groups and legal systems of the Hemisphere in the membership of the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court). To that end, the Resolution called on States to prioritize these principles and reflect them in their nomination and election practices and policies.

This resolution and the upcoming election take place in the context of the fact that, for the first time in their history, the IACHR and the IACHR Court reflect gender parity in their membership, thus contributing to overcoming the historical under-representation of women in both bodies. This achievement was highlighted by the General Assembly in the afore mentioned resolution, affirming the importance of sustaining it on the basis that an equal and representative gender composition is necessary to strengthen the work, impact and adequate treatment of the region’s issues and problems around prevention, promotion, protection and guarantee of human rights, with special attention to the issues of equality and non-discrimination.

The upcoming election represents a critical moment that will test the commitments made by the States and their ability to vote for an integration that respects the established criteria, including gender parity. We call on the States to reinforce these commitments, to put into practice the principles adopted, and to avoid setbacks in an aspect that is key to the representativeness, legitimacy and impact of one of the most important bodies for the protection of human rights in the region.