Initiatives & Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Member States of the OAS have defined the renewal of three members of the IACtHR, a regional human rights tribunal that is and has been crucial for the defense of rights, fundamental freedoms, and democracy in the Americas. However, the nomination and selection processes of its members has lacked sufficient transparency and mechanisms that guarantee the participation of members of society. Since 2015, an Independent Panel of Experts has convened to evaluate the candidates, a process which culminates in the publication of a "Final Report."

1. Why are the elections of new judges to the IACtHR important?

The elections of the IACtHR are very important for the protection of human rights in the region. Those who comprise this autonomous legal institution are tasked with the responsibility of interpreting and applying the American Convention, through the resolution of contentious cases and provision of advisory judgements. Judges who sit on this court must be of high moral authority, independent, and possess a sufficient knowledge of, and commitment to, human rights. 

2. What are the requirements to be elected to the IACtHR?

It is necessary to have high moral authority, to be independent and impartial, and to have a background and recognized competence in the field of human rights. Likewise, the States must take into account the contribution that the new member will make to the commission in terms of gender, geographical representation, and diversity of legal systems and population groups.

3. How are the candidates selected?

The candidates are first nominated by the States, which are authorized to present three people for each position. Then, the representatives of the States, meeting at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), elect, from among the candidates presented, those who will fill the vacancies. This election is by secret ballot, and the candidates who obtain the largest number of votes and the absolute majority of the votes of the Member States are declared elected.

4. Why an Independent Panel of Experts for the evaluation of candidates?

One of the Panel’s central objectives is to provide transparency to a selection process that is of utmost importance for the protection of human rights in the region. The Panel does this by evaluating the candidates according to objective standards and under a predefined methodology, and by informing the States as well as society in general. The Panel also proposes recommendations to improve these processes.

5. Why is it convened by civil society, and how is the independence of the Panel guaranteed?

The Panel is convened by the Center for Justice and International Law, the Due Process of Law Foundation, and the Open Society Justice Initiative in an effort that was born in 2015 and has been supported by organizations and human rights institutions across the continent. This initiative operates in the absence of a similar mechanism developed by the OAS and inspired by similar experiences that operate in other international tribunals. Panel members do not receive any financial contribution for their work, nor do they have any dependency relationship with any of the convening organizations. In addition, the Panel designs its own work methodology and agrees on the evaluation criteria in an autonomous manner. The Panel has information channels and transparent procedures through which it receives information from civil society. It also sends questionnaires to the candidates and proposes conducting interviews. As the Secretariat of the Panel, the American University Washington College of Law contributes to the work of the Panel and safeguards its independence.

6. Who are the members of the Panel?

They are recognized jurists in the field of human rights: Mariclaire Acosta, Juan Méndez, Edison Lanza, Juan Pablo Albán Alencastro, and Sergia Galván Ortega. 

7. What is the value of the Panel's report?

The report of the Independent Panel is the only document that offers an independent and participatory evaluation of the candidates. States do not have a legal obligation to adopt the recommendations of the Panel or to take into account the evaluations of the candidates. However, the report aims to objectively inform the States’ final decision.

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