Criteria for the Evaluation of Candidates to IAHRS Bodies


High moral authority IACtHR:

To evaluate the moral authority of the candidates and their professional ethics, which are crucial topics for the Inter-American System, the Panel analyzed whether the person had any kind of sanctions, warnings, or denunciations, or if, on the contrary, he or she received awards or prizes that would validate him or her as a jurist of the highest moral authority, as required by the ACHR and the Statute of the Court (Panel Report – 2018).

High moral authority IACHR:

“Ensure that [one's] conduct is above reproach by any reasonable observer." The Bangalore Principles link this notion to public trust and the importance not only of making fair decisions, but also to the process used to ensure those decisions are clear. In this sense, impropriety, and the appearance of impropriety, must be avoided in all activities. This is related to the outstanding aspects of the candidates' careers (for example, whether they have received special mentions, distinctions, or awards), as well as whether the candidates registered sanctions, misconduct or complaints in their professional practice or the ethics of their work (Panel Report – 2019).  

 Recognized competence in human rights (in the case of candidates for the IACtHR):

Knowledge of and experience with human rights generally, and with the Inter-American System in particular, have been key (Panel Report – 2015). This may be demonstrated, for example, through a record of academic publications, or through substantial work experience within the system (Panel Report – 2017 / 2018). Also determinative is whether the candidate complied with the requirement of being qualified to exercise the highest judicial function, "according to the law of the State of which they are nationals or of the State that nominates them as candidates" (Panel Report – 2021). 

Recognized expertise in human rights (in the case of candidates for the IACHR):

Knowledge of and experience with the Inter-American human rights instruments, and with the Inter-American System in general, as well as the candidate’s record of professional achievement and advocacy, have been key criteria. In respect to diligence, the ability of the candidate to carry out his or her responsibilities has been considered, given their other duties and commitments (Panel Report – 2015). 

This notion implies having both knowledge and demonstrated experience in human rights matters. Knowing the inter-American human rights instruments, managing the main standards emanating from the SIDH organizations, understanding the internal procedures and relations of the SIDH with external actors, and understanding its operating dynamics, are some of the variables that the Panel has used to evaluate this point. The candidate must possess knowledge of the main challenges of the Inter-American Human Rights System, and of its proposals and priorities in relation to said challenges. The candidate's commitment to the object and purpose of the American Convention on Human Rights and to the mandate of the IACHR must be clear (Panel Report – 2019).


This includes both individual and institutional aspects. Independence and impartiality include not only avoiding actual bias or control by other organs, but also avoiding the appearance of a lack of independence (Panel Report – 2015). The Bangalore Principles explain that to be independent is to be “free from any outside influence, instigation, pressure, threats or interference, whether direct or indirect, from any source or for any reason." It implies not only being free from inappropriate connections or pressures, but having “the appearance of being free from the above in the eyes of a reasonable observer" (Panel Report – 2019). 


Being impartial, for its part, means performing tasks “without favoritism, predisposition or prejudice,” and has to do not only with the decisions themselves, but also with the process by which they are adopted (Panel Report – 2019). 

Conflicts of interest:

The Addis Ababa Guidelines indicate that both conflicts of interest and non-compliance with independence and suitability requirements “may result from various factors, such as the member's nationality or place of residence, current or previous employment, membership or affiliation to an organization or family or social relationships" (Panel Report – 2019).

The Addis Ababa Guidelines add that independence and impartiality are compromised by the participation of the member of the organization “in the executive branch of a State, given the political nature of that link." Consequently, members of international organizations should refrain from “performing any function or activity that is, or that a reasonable observer could interpret as being, incompatible with their obligations and responsibilities as independent experts." In a similar sense, assuming positions with decision-making capacity in civil society organizations, academic institutions, companies or private entities and organizations related to States, can also give rise to conflicts of interest. 


The ability of the candidate to carry out his or her responsibilities given other duties and commitments, as well as his or her record of professional achievement (Panel Report – 2015).

Contribution to the representative and balanced composition of the body:

The contribution of the candidate to the balanced composition of the organization in terms of gender, geographical representation, population groups and legal systems, is a criterion that has been established and maintained in the resolutions of the General Assembly, at least since 2015. 

Nomination processes at the national level:

Internal nomination processes must be transparent, participatory and based on the merits and competencies of the candidates. These processes operate as a guarantee of their independence, impartiality and suitability. This, while they deconcentrate the power of the States over the selection processes, by allowing civil society, academia and other interested actors to have the capacity to participate in them (Panel Report – 2019). 

The development of national nomination processes that are transparent, participatory, and based on the merits and competencies of the candidates contribute to guaranteeing the independence, impartiality, and suitability of the future members of the IACtHR and the IACHR (Expert Panel – 2021).

Auxiliary qualities:

Includes the ability to work as part of a collegial body; the ability to work in more than one of the Court’s official languages; the knowledge of the various legal systems that exist in the region; and a broad exposure to and understanding of the political, social and cultural environment of the region (Panel Report – 2015).  

Capacity to work in one or more of the Commission's official languages; knowledge of different legal systems in the region; and widespread exposure and understanding of the regional and sub-regional political, social and cultural environment. Also, whether the candidate would contribute to the balance in the overall composition of the Commission and in the Court in terms of areas of expertise, gender, career path (e.g., diplomacy, academia, NGOs, etc.) and other forms of diversity (Panel Report – 2017 / 2018).  

Also, the potential contribution of the nominees to the diverse composition of the IAHRS bodies is a factor, as it reaffirms the importance of promoting diverse, plural, representative memberships, thus following the successive recommendations of the OAS General Assembly to the States. 

Additional International Instruments:

The Bangalore Principles on Judicial Conduct of 2002. Among the most relevant are: independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety, equality, competence and diligence; The Guidelines on the Independence and Impartiality of Members of Human Rights Treaty Bodies (the Addis Ababa Guidelines). 

The OAS Resolution AG/RES.2887 (XL VI-O/16) approved in 2016, regarding “Gender equity and balanced geographic and legal-system representation on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights," Resolution No. AG/RES. 2909 (XLVII-O/17), Res. No. AG/RES. 2928 (XLVIII-O/18), Res. AG/RES. 2941 (XLIX-O/19), AG/RES. 2961 (L-O/20) on PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, adopted at the 4th plenary meeting, held on October 21, 2020, item ii. Available through  

Finally, the Panel examined the nature of national nomination processes in light of standards of transparency and participation.