The role of Brazil in the Inter-American System

In a new article, Conectas examines Brazil’s part in the reform of the regional human rights body In a new article, Conectas examines Brazil’s part in the reform of the regional human rights body

The most important regional human rights body was, just over two years ago, the target of attacks, criticisms, funding withholdings and other affronts leveled by Latin American countries unhappy with its actions. Since then, the Inter-American Human Rights System has undergone one of its most comprehensive reforms, in which Brazil at times played a dubious role.

In a new article written for the Due Process of Law Foundation’s Aportes magazine, Juana Kweitel, program director at Conectas, and Raísa Cetra, consultant for the organization’s Foreign Policy and Human Rights Program, examine the reform process and analyze the “deep questioning (by Brazil) of the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights” following the precautionary measure issued by the body against the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, one of the most ambitious and controversial energy generation projects in Brazil.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which was created in 1959, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, established in 1978, together form the Inter-American Human Rights System. Both bodies were decisive in protecting the victims of Latin American dictatorships, and they still play a crucial role today in severe cases of human rights violations.

However, although this system has contributed enormously to the defense of human rights over the past few decades, some countries were openly critical of the two bodies in 2011, particularly the Commission. In some cases, the criticisms were constructive, and were intended to improve the system. But in others, there was a clear and alarming motivation to limit the effectiveness of the body, or even to extinguish it.

Concerned with the direction of the debate – and particularly with the role of Brazil, which at one point suspended its financial support for the system and withdrew its ambassador after the Commission issued a precautionary measure against the construction of Belo Monte – Conectas has taken several steps to emphasize the importance of the system and defend its improvement. Take a look back at the case.

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