On Wednesday, the members of the OAS elected three new commissioners to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Flávia Cristina Piovesan (Brazil), Antonia Urrejola (Chile) and Joel Hernández García (Mexico) will begin four-year terms on the Commission in January 2018. When the Commission convenes that January, it will comprise four women and three men and will be without an American for the first time since 2005. In retrospect, the decision not to send Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and for the U.S. not to attend the Commission’s 161 hearings on U.S. cases may likely have hurt U.S. candidate Doug Cassel’s chances.
Piovesan, Urrejola and Hernández García beat out nominees from Argentina, the United States and Uruguay. The final vote count was as follows: Hernández Garcia (Mexico), 28 votes; Piovesan (Brazil), 21 votes; Urrejola (Chile), 19 votes; Cassel (U.S.), 16 votes; de Casas (Argentina), 11 votes; Gradin (Uruguay), 6 votes. It’s worth noting that Carlos Horacio de Casas, the Argentine candidate, managed to receive 11 votes despite ongoing controversy about his choice to defend a soldier who served as an intelligence agent during the Argentine military dictatorship.
When we scored the candidates last month, Piovesan—along with the U.S. nominee, Doug Cassel—received the highest score. She joins the council after a career of defending human rights in Brazil as a São Paolo State Attorney and chair of the São Paolo Working Group on Human Rights.
Hernández, on the other hand, received the lowest score in our candidate profiles. Though he received the most votes of any candidate, Hernández, continues to face backlash from politicians and human rights group in Mexico over his lack of experience with human rights.
Urrejola will join the council as a relatively unknown entity outside her native Chile compared to the other candidates, though she did serve as Senior Advisor to the Secretary General of the OAS from 2006-2011. In Chile, Urrejola is best known for her advocacy work for indigenous and environmental human rights.
When Piovesan, Urrejola and Hernández begin their terms in January 2018, the Commission will be made up of members from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and Peru.