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Vasciannie wants CARICOM represented on international human rights body

Published:Monday | October 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Ambassador to the United States, and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS ), His Excellency Stephen Vasciannie, has been elected to chair OAS Legal Committee.

Jamaica's ambassador to the United States and permanent representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Stephen Vasciannie, has argued that the Inter-American Human Rights system should give greater recognition to CARICOM States at the OAS.

Speaking in a panel discussion on human rights at Fordham University Law School, New York City, on Saturday, Vasciannie noted that there were no CARICOM judges at the Inter-American Court for Human Rights, and no CARICOM lawyers in the secretariat at that court.

Vasciannie added that it was a positive development for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to have two of seven

commissioners from CARICOM, but bemoaned the fact that only two of the more than thirty lawyers in the secretariat at the Commission are from the CARICOM.

In his presentation at the panel discussion, organised by the American Branch of the International Law Association and the International Law Students Association, Vasciannie also reviewed developments at the OAS, including efforts to increase participation of countries in the inter-American system of human rights, and tensions in the system, including the circumstances under which internal matters come to be regarded as breaches of international human rights law.

Vasciannie pointed out that some countries within the OAS have sought to promote greater participation in the inter-American human rights system by hosting a series of 'Assemblies of States Parties to the American Convention on Human Rights'.

Backwards step

According to Vasciannie, one objective of the Assemblies of States Parties appears to be to change the location of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights from Washington DC.

This, the ambassador argued, would be a

negative step not least because it could contribute significantly to the erosion of Caribbean participation in the inter-American system - participation in which is already relatively low.

Other participants in the panel discussion on 'Current International Legal Issues in the OAS' included Professor David Stewart, president-elect of the American branch of the International Law Association, and Jean Michel Arrighi, head of legal affairs of the OAS. Vasciannie was recently elected chairman of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the OAS.