Earlier in the year, the Human Rights Brief reported on the financial crisis that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was experiencing.
The financial crisis forced the Commission to cancel the hearings it holds each fall in its headquarters in Washington, DC. However, in response to the outpouring of concern for the lack of access to justice, the Commission received additional funds and it is now able to resume some of its regular activities.
In a September 30, 2016 press release, President of the Commission, James Cavallaro, stated that “the severe financial crisis [the Commission] went through in 2016 has been overcome . . . thanks to the special financial efforts done by Member States and other donors to help solve the urgent problem.” However, the Commission also expressed concern over its underlying budgetary problem, where its regular annual budget of $5.3 million dollars is “insufficient to comply with the important and delicate mandate that the States have given us . . . .” Having overcome the financial crisis only means that the Commission is able to comply with its basic duties, such as complying with contracts and renewing staff employment.
To remedy the budget problem, the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACourtHR) agreed on a joint proposal for adequate funding to work towards a budget that “can guarantee the sustainability and predictability of the available funds for the two organs of the system . . . .” In submitting the joint proposal, the President of the Commission Cavallaro emphasized that the increased budget was not the ideal, but rather only what the Inter-American system requires to function properly to guarantee its financial sustainability and prevent another financial crisis next year.
Additionally, the Commission received a half of a million dollars from the United States on October 14, 2016, which has enabled it to hold an Extraordinary Period of Sessions on December 9 and 10, 2016, in its Washington, DC headquarters. These sessions will allow the Commission to hold activities that were postponed or temporarily suspended as a result of the financial crisis from which it recently emerged. The Extraordinary Period of Sessions will supplement the 159th Ordinary Period of Sessions, which Panama offered to host and finance during the financial crisis, but will be limited to hearings on the United States or Canada, and must be thematic in nature or at the merits stage. So, as IACHR Vice-President stated, while “[t]he financial structural deficit is still our main challenge[,] we identify a sincere disposition to . . . have a long lasting solution.”