General assembly thirty-eighth regular session




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STRENGTHENING OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEMS OF THE
MEMBER STATES AND SUPPORT FOR THE WORK OF DEFENDERS OF
THE PEOPLE, DEFENDERS OF THE POPULATION, AND HUMAN RIGHTS
ATTORNEYS OR COMMISSIONERS (OMBUDSMEN)

(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 3, 2008)

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT resolutions AG/RES. 2345 (XXXVII-O/07), AG/RES. 2221 (XXXVI-O/06), and AG/RES. 2132 (XXXV-O/05), “Strengthening of the National Human Rights Systems of the Member States and Support for the Work of Defenders of the People, Defenders of the Population, and Human Rights Attorneys or Commissioners (Ombudsmen),” whereby it recognized the importance of national systems for the promotion and protection of human rights in safeguarding the rights of the individual;
HAVING SEEN the Annual Report of the Permanent Council to the General Assembly (AG/doc.4820/08);
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that in the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), the American Convention on Human Rights, and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the member states proclaimed the fundamental rights of the individual without distinction as to race, nationality, creed, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic status, birth, or any other social condition;
REAFFIRMING that the member states recognize that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated, and that all persons should be treated justly and equitably, on an equal footing, bearing in mind the progressive nature of economic, social, and cultural rights;
RECALLING that the World Conference on Human Rights reaffirmed the right to development, as established in the Declaration on the Right to Development, as a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights. As stated in the Declaration on the Right to Development, the human person is the central subject of development. While development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights. States should cooperate with each other in ensuring development and eliminating obstacles to development. The international community should promote an effective international cooperation for the realization of the right to development and the elimination of obstacles to development. Lasting progress towards the implementation of the right to development requires effective development policies at the national level, as well as equitable economic relations and a favorable economic environment at the international level;
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that the fundamental objective of national systems for the promotion and protection of human rights is to safeguard the rights of the individual;

BEARING IN MIND the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions, “Paris Principles,” adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 48/134, of December 20, 1993;


REAFFIRMING the importance of the inter-American human rights system, whose organs have competence to promote the observance of human rights in all member states of the Organization, in accordance with the commitments undertaken by each state, and which operate in a manner subsidiary to national jurisdictional systems;
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that all member states have the obligation to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, without distinguishing among the specific national and regional characteristics and the different historical, cultural, and religious backgrounds of all states, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems; and recognizing that democracy is a universal value and there is no single model of democracy;
AWARE that “[t]he effective exercise of representative democracy is the basis for the rule of law and of the constitutional regimes of the member states of the Organization of American States” and that one of the essential purposes of the OAS is “[t]o promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of nonintervention”;
REAFFIRMING that the participatory nature of democracy in our countries in different aspects of public life contributes to the consolidation of democratic values and to freedom and solidarity in the Hemisphere;
RECALLING resolutions AG/RES. 1505 (XXVII-O/97), AG/RES. 1601 (XXVIII-O/98), and AG/RES. 1670 (XXIX-O/99), in which the General Assembly recognized the work of ombudsmen in the Hemisphere, a concept recognized in the law of member states with names such as defenders of the people, defenders of the population, human rights attorneys, and human rights commissioners;
RECALLING ALSO the message transmitted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights through resolution 2005/74, “National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights,” which, in paragraph 12, “[w]elcomes the continuation of the practice of national institutions convening regional meetings” and encourages national institutions, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “to continue to organize similar events with Governments and non-governmental organizations in their own regions”;
UNDERSCORING the work done by the Caribbean Ombudsmen’s Association, the Network of National Human Rights Institutions of the Americas, the Andean Council of Ombudsmen, the Central American Ombudsman Council, and the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsmen;
RECALLING the exhortation contained in the aforementioned resolutions that member states of the inter-American system adopt measures to ensure that the defenders of the people, defenders of the population, human rights attorneys, and human rights commissioners enjoy political, administrative, and financial independence; and
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION the Plan of Action of the Third Summit of the Americas, adopted in Quebec City, as it pertains to strengthening the capacity of national institutions responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights,
RESOLVES:
1. To reaffirm the fundamental importance of national human rights systems for the promotion and protection of human rights in strengthening the rule of law and social justice for the consolidation of democracy.
2. To reiterate its support for the politically, administratively, and financially independent work of the ombudsmen or defenders of the people, defenders of the population, human rights attorneys, and human rights commissioners in the countries of the Hemisphere, in the promotion and protection of human rights.
3. To recommend to member states that do not yet have institutions of the kind to which this resolution refers that they consider the possibility of establishing and operating them within the framework of their legal systems.
4. To encourage the governments and organs of the inter-American system to promote the establishment of forums for dialogue between the institutions of the kind to which this resolution refers and the pertinent organs of the inter-American system, in order to strengthen their contribution to the democratic order in the Hemisphere.
5. To reaffirm the support of the Organization of American States for the work of the Caribbean Ombudsmen’s Association, the Network of National Human Rights Institutions of the Americas, the Andean Council of Ombudsmen, the Central American Ombudsman Council, and the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsmen.
6. To reiterate to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Permanent Council that it consider inviting the institutions to which this resolution refers to participate in the dialogue to be held among member states on human rights issues, given that their presence is necessary.
7. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-ninth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.
AG/RES. 2412 (XXXVIII-O/08)
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS: SUPPORT FOR INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS, AND
ORGANIZATIONS OF CIVIL SOCIETY WORKING TO PROMOTE AND

PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE AMERICAS


(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 3, 2008)

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,


HAVING SEEN the Annual Report of the Permanent Council to the General Assembly (AG/doc. 4820/08) as it pertains to this topic, and resolution AG/RES. 2280 (XXXVII-O/07), “Human Rights Defenders: Support for the Individuals, Groups, and Organizations of Civil Society Working to Promote and Protect Human Rights in the Americas”;
RECALLING the United Nations Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
REITERATING that “[e]veryone has the right, individually and in association with others, to solicit, receive and utilize resources for the express purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms through peaceful means” in accordance with domestic law consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and other international obligations of the state in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
CONCERNED that situations persist in the Americas that directly or indirectly prevent or hamper the work of individuals, groups, or organizations working to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms;
Gravely concerned that, in some instances, national security and counterterrorism legislation and other measures have been misused to incriminate human rights defenders or to hinder their work and safety in a manner contrary to international law;
Bearing in mind that, in resolution 60/161 of the United Nations General Assembly and resolution 2005/67 of the former Commission on Human Rights of that organization, the Member States of the United Nations noted “with deep concern that, in many countries, persons and organizations engaged in promoting and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms are facing threats, harassment and insecurity as a result of those activities”;
CONSIDERING that the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) have demonstrated their full willingness to support the work carried out by human rights defenders and recognize their valuable contribution to the promotion, observance, and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Americas, and to the representation and defense of individuals, minorities, and other groups of persons whose rights are threatened or violated;
NOTING that the decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights granting provisional measures, and the “Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas,” prepared by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), have highlighted the importance of the work of human rights defenders to the development of democracies in the Americas;
URGING the Unit for Human Rights Defenders of the IACHR to continue its work;
EMPHASIZING that everyone has duties toward and within the community, in which alone the free and full development of his or her personality is possible;
EMPHASIZING ALSO that the promotion and protection of human rights is legitimate work and that human rights defenders, in the exercise of their functions, contribute decisively to strengthening democratic institutions and improving national human rights systems; and
EMPHASIZING FURTHER the importance of the role of human rights defenders in promoting dialogue, openness, participation, and justice to contribute to the prevention of violence and promote sustainable peace and security, and the affirmation that, to be effective, international strategies in this area must pay special attention to protecting human rights defenders,
RESOLVES:


  1. To reiterate its support for the work carried out, at both the national and regional levels, by human rights defenders; and to recognize their valuable contribution to the promotion, observance, and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Hemisphere.




  1. To recognize that, in view of their gender-specific role and needs, women human rights defenders should be accorded special attention to ensure that they are fully protected and effective in carrying out their important activities.




  1. To condemn actions intended to prevent or hamper, whether directly or indirectly, the work of human rights defenders in the Americas.




  1. To encourage human rights defenders to continue their selfless work and their contributions to the enhancement of national human rights systems for the strengthening of democracy, in accordance with the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.




  1. To encourage member states to continue or begin, as the case may be, activities to educate and disseminate information to government officials, society at large, and the media, both public and private, so as to make them aware of the importance and validity of the work of human rights defenders and their organizations.




  1. To urge member states to continue stepping up their efforts to adopt necessary measures to safeguard the lives, freedom, and personal safety of human rights defenders and their relatives, including effective emergency protection measures in the case of imminent threat or danger, and to ensure that thorough and impartial investigations and proceedings are carried out, and appropriate punishments are applied, in all cases of violations against human rights defenders.




  1. To request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to:




  1. Continue to give due consideration to this matter;




  1. Continue intensifying its dialogue and cooperation with the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders; and




  1. Include in its annual report a section on the work of the Unit for Human Rights Defenders of the IACHR.




  1. To encourage member states to ensure that applicable national law–including registration where applicable under national law–concerning human rights defenders and their organizations allows their work to be carried out in a free, transparent, and open political environment and in a manner consistent with applicable international human rights and humanitarian law.




  1. To invite member states to promote the dissemination and enforcement of the treaty and non-treaty instruments of the inter-American system and the decisions of its bodies on human rights matters, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.




  1. To invite member states to consider the preparation and implementation of national plans to apply the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration mentioned in the preceding paragraph, for which purpose they may also request the advisory services of the IACHR.




  1. To invite member states to inform the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of measures adopted to follow up on the recommendations contained in the “Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas,” prepared in 2006 by the Unit for Human Rights Defenders of the IACHR.




  1. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-ninth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

AG/RES. 2413 (XXXVIII-O/08)
STRENGTHENING THE ACTIVITIES
OF THE JUSTICE STUDIES CENTER OF THE AMERICAS
(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 3, 2008)

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,


HAVING SEEN the mandates assigned by the Third and the Fourth Summit of the Americas; resolution AG/RES. 1 (XXVI-E/99), which decided to establish the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA); resolution AG/RES. 2068 (XXXV-O/05), “Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas”; the Annual Report of the Permanent Council to the General Assembly (AG/doc.4548/06 add. 6), especially with respect to the implementation of resolution AG/RES. 2068 (XXXV-O/05); and resolutions AG/RES. 2228 (XXXVI-O/06), “Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas”; AG/RES. 2216 (XXXVI-O/06), “Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas: Strengthening the Activities of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas”; AG/RES. 2266 (XXXVII-O/07), “Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas: Support for the REMJA Process”; AG/RES. 2281 (XXXVII-O/07), “Strengthening the Activities of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas,” and AG/RES. 2369 (XXXVIII-O/08), “Meetings of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas”;
CONSIDERING that the member states can continue examining the proposals presented by the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA) at each Meeting of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA);
BEARING IN MIND the funding plan presented by the JSCA to the Sixth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA-VI), held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in April 2006, which proposed a system of suggested voluntary contributions by member states to ensure coverage of the JSCA’s basic costs;
APPRECIATING the voluntary contributions made by Belize, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and the United States;
NOTING that, as indicated in the aforementioned plan, the Center’s basic costs for central administration and for services provided regionally through its Virtual Information Center and publications now amounts to US$675,000 per year;
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the Annual Report of the Center, presented to the Permanent Council on December 7, 2007, and the report presented to REMJA-VII on April 29, 2008, as well as the presentation made to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs on April 3, 2008 (CP/doc.4297/08), in the framework of the dialogue mandated in resolution AG/RES. 2266 (XXXVII-O/07), which reflect the specific activities undertaken by the JSCA in recent years to strengthen justice systems in the member states; and noting that the JSCA reported that it is working intensely to expand existing projects and develop new ones with multilateral agencies and financial institutions; and

RECALLING that Article 17 of the Center’s Statute, adopted in 1999 by the General Assembly at its twenty-sixth special session, establishes that the JSCA and its activities may be funded with voluntary contributions from member states of the Organization, as well as with funds from other public and private sources,


RESOLVES:


  1. To reiterate its appeal to member states to consider making voluntary contributions to the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA) to cover its basic costs.




  1. To invite the permanent observers of the Organization to make voluntary contributions to the JSCA.




  1. To request that the Permanent Council, through the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, continue including on its agenda a dialogue with the JSCA in which consideration is given to the best ways to expand cooperation between the member states and the Center, taking into account the conclusions and recommendations of the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJAs) in this regard.




  1. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-ninth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

AG/RES. 2414 (XXXVIII-O/08)



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