Secretary General Insulza Highlights the Contributions of the Inter-American System to International Law

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  July 17, 2014

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, highlighted today in a keynote speech on "The OAS and International Law," the contributions of the Inter-American System to International Law, citing the defense of modern democracy embodied in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. In his presentation, which took place at the National Palace of Justice in Lima, Peru, Insulza praised the strength and independence of the regional system of protection of human rights, stressing the need for its universality, and called on the states that have not done so to ratify the Convention on the subject.

Secretary General Insulza said the status of pioneer in the legal heritage of the Americas is demonstrated by the fact that, to a significant degree, contemporary international law closely followed Inter-American international law. "In its first decades of work, in codifying international law, the United Nations took up many of the principles and institutions that already existed in the Inter-American System. The reason is understandable: the 21 states that formed the Inter-American System at the end of World War II constituted almost half of the founders of the universal organization," said the OAS Secretary General in the lecture he gave at the headquarters of the Supreme Court of Peru. "Today the OAS member states are only around 35 among 200 countries in the United Nations," he added.

The OAS leader emphasized that one of the greatest contributions of the Inter-American System is the approval of the Inter-American Democratic Charter in 2001. "The Charter goes far beyond the conception of democracy as a simple means of democratic power generation, and defines the features of modern democracy that our Hemisphere is building. The principles on which this democracy is based are not only characterized by the holding of free and fair elections, but also by the protection of other fundamental freedoms," he said. Secretary General Insulza added that the Charter constitutes a political program for the "democratic republic" and emphasized that it is "fully in force."

At another point in his speech, OAS Secretary General said that the hemispheric institution has reason to be proud of its Inter-American System of Protection of Human Rights, and the roles played by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The leader of the Organization noted that the jurisdiction of the Commission covers all the countries of the OAS, as the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man was approved by all member states in 1948, so it must also be accepted by the new states that are integrated into the Organization. However, the American Convention on Human Rights so far been ratified by 25 States, he said, adding that recently a Latin American state denounced it. "The system has worked very well so far and has proven to be an effective mechanism for protecting and promoting human rights in the Hemisphere," he said, but cautioned that as long as it does not work fully for all member states," there will always exist the possibility of setbacks." In this regard, he said that "this is a very good opportunity to stress the need to universalize the Inter-American system of protection of human rights through the ratification of the Convention by all member states of the OAS."

Before giving the keynote address, Secretary General Insulza met privately with the Chief Justice of Peru, Enrique Mendoza.

Secretary General Insulza is in Peru on an official two-day visit, where in addition to the keynote address at the headquarters of the Supreme Court, tomorrow he will participate in the First Meeting of Presidents of Legislative Powers in Lima, a space for dialogue and parliamentary exchanges and cooperation aimed at institutional strengthening to strengthen ties between the Congresses of the region. This event will hold at the headquarters of the Congress of Peru in Lima.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

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