The Initiative on Transparency and Election Monitoring in the Inter-American Human Rights System

Since 2015, as part of an ongoing effort to increase the transparency and visibility of the nomination and elections process for regional human rights commissioners and judges, the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Due Process of Law Foundation, and the Center for Justice and International Law have convened an independent panel of experts to evaluate the qualifications of candidates who have applied to serve as commissioners and judges for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This year, the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law will support the work of the Independent Panel by serving as its Secretariat. With the support of numerous NGOs, universities, and bar associations throughout the region, these organizations share a common commitment to strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System through the principle of fair, transparent, and inclusive elections, and through the nomination of qualified and independent candidates.  

The 2019 panel is composed of internationally renowned human rights expert listed below: 

Mariclaire Acosta

Mariclaire Acosta

Founder, Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights; Undersecretary for Human Rights and Democracy, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mexico (2001-2003)

Mariclaire Acosta is former President of the Citizen’s Committee of the National Anticorruption System of Mexico. She is an academic, an activist, a former public servant, and an internationally recognized expert on issues related to the defense and promotion of human rights. During her career, she has founded several civil society organizations and held a number of prominent posts, including director of Freedom House Mexico and director for the Americas at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). She was Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) on civil society affairs; and Deputy Secretary for Human Rights and Democracy at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs under President Vicente Fox. She is currently the Chair of Oxfam-Mexico.

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Carlos Ayala

Carlos Ayala

Vice President; International Commission of Jurists

Carlos Ayala is an international jurist with extensive experience in human rights protection systems, and professor of international human rights law and constitutional law in undergraduate and postgraduate courses at different universities. He is also vice president of the International Commission of Jurists and member of the Board of Directors of the International Human Rights Institute (IHRI). He was president and member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas between 1996 and 1999. He was also a member of the Andean Commission of Jurists since 1992 and president of the Commission between 2003 and 2009. In 2005, Carlos Ayala was appointed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a member of the International Observers Commission for the process of selection and appointment of the Supreme Court of Justice of Ecuador (2005); and a consultant to the UN for the appointment of the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala (2009). He is also Honorary President of the Venezuelan Association of Constitutional Law since 1998. Among his academic background, he was Professor of Constitutional Law at the Catholic University "Andrés Bello" (UCAB) and professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), between 1983 and 2008. He is Head of the Chair of Constitutional Law at the UCAB since 1992. He was Head of the Department of Public Law at the UCAB between 2004 and 2016. He is Professor of International Protection of Human Rights at the Postgraduate in Human Rights at the UCV since 1992. He is also Professor of the Human Rights Program in the undergraduate degree of Law at the Metropolitan University and UCAB since 2005, and Professor of the Graduate in Constitutional Law at the UCAB since 2006. He is Professor of International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford, New College, since 2011. He was Professor of Human Rights and Constitutionalism in the Americas, Georgetown University, Graduate School, USA in 1999 and Professor of International Protection of Human Rights at American University, Washington of College of Law, Postgraduate in Human Rights, USA in 1999 and since 2004. Also, he was Professor of Human Rights, in the Graduate Course in Constitutional Law at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico in 2003.

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Catalina Botero Marino

Catalina Botero Marino

Dean; Universidad de Los Andes Law School

Catalina Botero Marino is an attorney and expert in constitutional law, international human rights law, transitional justice, and access to information. Ms. Botero Marino received her law degree from La Universidad de los Andes and went on to complete her postgraduate studies in Public Management and Administrative Law, human rights, constitutional rights and political science. She previously served as the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression for the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights from 2008 to 2014 as well as the Auxiliary Magistrate at the Constitutional Court of Colombia for several different periods, where she currently is deputy judge, as well as of the State’s Council. She is founding partner of DeJusticia Colombia. Also, she is advisor of several international organizations as UNESCO and invited expert to academic projects such as Global Freedom of Expression and Information from Columbia University. Ms. Botero is also part of the directive boards of Article 19, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Digital Rights, and Fedesarrollo.

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Juan E. Méndez

Juan E. Méndez

Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence; American University Washington College of Law

Juan E. Méndez is a Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence at the American University – Washington College of Law, where he is Faculty Director of the Anti-Torture Initiative, a project to WCL’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment between November 2010 and October 31, 2016. He is the author (with Marjory Wentworth) of “Taking A Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights” (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011). In early 2017 Professor Méndez was elected Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, Switzerland. In February 2017, he was named a member of the Selection Committee to appoint magistrates of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and members of the Truth Commission set up as part of the Colombian Peace Accords. He was an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court from 2009 to 2011 and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association in 2010 and 2011. Until May 2009 he was the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). Concurrent with his duties at ICTJ, the Honorable Kofi Annan named Mr. Méndez his Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, a task he performed from 2004 to 2007.

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Judith Schönsteiner

Judith Schönsteiner

Associate Professor Law; Universidad Diego Portales

Judith Schönsteiner is Associate Professor with Universidad Diego Portales, Law School. She holds a Doctorate in Law (2011), an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law (2006) with Essex University, England, and an M.A. in political science with the Johannes Gutenberg de Mainz, Alemania (2003). In 2001 and 2002 she studied in the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Strasburg. She was a vising scholar with the Max Planck Institut für Ausländisches Öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht in several opportunities (2012, 2016, 2017, 2018). From 2012 to 2017 she was the director of the Center for Human Rights at Universidad Diego Portales. She was Member of the Editorial Committee of the Public Law Year Book. She participated of the Advisory Commission on Social Inclusion of Persons in a Situation of Disability (2014-2016). She was a Member of the Doctorate Cloister in Law at the UDP. She is alumnus at Arts and Humanities Research Council (doctorate scholarship), and at Cusanuswerk (undergraduate and graduate scholarship). Fellow at the Essex Business and Human Rights Project. Consultant at Center for Justice and International Law (2007). She has published on issues regarding the Interamerican System for Human Rights and on Business and Human Rights. More information in www.derechoshumanos.udp.cl and SSRN author ID 2659025.

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