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The Jamaica Human Rights Network, which includes the undersigned organisations and individuals, writes in support of Jamaica’s nomination of globally renowned jurist Margarette Macaulay for a second term as a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) whose seven members are elected in their individual capacity by the General Assembly for their competence in the field of human rights.

Ms. Macaulay served as a judge on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights from 2007 to 2012. She was elected for her first term to the IACHR with the largest number of votes at the 2015 General Assembly. She has had a distinguished record on both the Inter American Court and now the Inter-American Commission, including serving as its President between 2018 and 2019. In December 2017, Macaulay was named as an honouree on the Gender Justice Legacy Wall at the United Nations Headquarters in New York during the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Assembly of States Parties. The Gender Justice Legacy Wall honours global change-makers who have contributed to the field of international gender justice as practitioners, advocates, judges, academics, diplomats and others. As an honouree, Macaulay will be permanently recognized at the ICC headquarters in the Hague

Recent attacks on Ms. Macaulay by certain lobby groups and calls for the revocation of her nomination as a candidate for a second term on the IACHR reflect a profound misunderstanding of the role of IACHR and its members and the eligibility requirements for election. 

IACHR Commissioners are independent human rights experts, not state representatives

As required by the statute of the IACHR, the elected Commissioners are “persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights” who serve as individual experts, not representing any state.

While each candidate must be nominated by a member-state of the OAS, and elected by the General Assembly, they do not represent their country of origin. Margarette Macaulay was nominated by Jamaica because of her outstanding track-record as a human rights expert; she is not Jamaica’s diplomatic representative. Jamaica is ably represented within the OAS by its Permanent Mission to that body, led by Ambassador Audrey Marks. In fact, the rules of the IACHR prevent Commissioners from participating in matters involving their own countries of origin. You will not hear Ms. Macaulay ever speak as a commissioner on the human rights situation in Jamaica. 

Member states make their nominations of candidates based on those persons’ high moral character and competence in human rights and not on whether candidates share the views of the Government or the religious views of some lobby groups. Using these criteria, Jamaica has nominated in the past three IACHR candidates, who have all been elected commissioners and whose work has advanced human rights across the Hemisphere. It should not unravel this legacy.

Macaulay’s accomplishments speak for themselves

Margarette Macaulay is the first Jamaican woman to serve as a judgeof the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. During her tenure as a judge, she contributed to the formulation of the Court’s Rules of Procedure and was involved in deciding some of region’s most important cases related to gender-based violence, including the well-known Cottonfields case from Mexico in 2009. In that landmark case, the Court examined cases of women who had gone missing in the Ciudad Juarez area of Mexico and the failure of the Mexican state to properly investigate their disappearances. 

During her first term at the IACHR, Macaulay was elected president of the Commission and served as Rapporteur for the Rights of Women and Rapporteur on Rights of Persons of African Descent and against Racial Discrimination. She successfully led initiatives to include Afro-descendants in the population censuses of more countries in the Americas, represented the IACHR in the landmark case of I.V. versus Bolivia in which Bolivian state was held accountable for forcibly sterilizing a woman without her consent. Her work contributed to securing the very first Period of Sessions of Commission to be held in the Caribbean – which will occur in Kingston, Jamaica in May 2019.

While all sectors are entitled to share opinions about the merits of candidates nominated to sit on the IACHR, targeted campaigns to eliminate highly qualified candidates who do not share their religious views is unprecedented. Candidates ought to be assessed on the merits of their professional accomplishments and commitment to human rights.  On this ground, Margarette Macaulay is a highly regarded and accomplished candidate who enjoys regional and international support. 

She deserves not only Jamaica’s backing as a nominating member state of the OAS, but that of the entire Caribbean subregion and the Americas. Many others in the hemisphere highly value her contributions to “the observance and defence of human rights.” So do all of us who are signatories.

  • Jamaican for Justice (JFJ)
  • Women and Development Unit, University of the West Indies – Open Campus
  • WOMAN Inc.
  • Caribbean Vulnerab