State Department Nominates Cassel to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Author: Amanda Gray

The U.S. Department of State Tuesday nominated Notre Dame Law Professor Doug Cassel as the U.S. candidate to serve on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the hemispheric monitoring body of the Organization of American States.
 
In a diplomatic note sent to 34 OAS member nations, the State Department called Cassel a “highly accomplished and respected scholar in the field of human rights and international law.”
 
“He has broad knowledge of the hemisphere, with deep sensitivity to its political and social challenges, and has extensive knowledge of the Inter-American human rights system and the operation of both national and international adjudicatory processes,” the note added.
 
The election for the four open seats on the seven-member commission will take place at the OAS annual meeting in Mexico City in June. The voting is expected to be hotly contested. If elected, Cassel would serve a four-year term beginning in January 2018. 
 
Located in Washington, D.C., the commission reports on hemispheric human rights issues, hears individual complaints of violations brought against OAS member countries, issues emergency protective orders, and refers cases from Latin America to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. (The U.S. is a party to the commission, but not to the court.)
 
“The commission is a vital safeguard for the defense of human rights in the Americas,” Cassel said. “I am honored to be nominated for this position of trust.”
 
Commissioners serve in their individual capacities, not as representatives of their governments.
 
If elected, Cassel would be the third Notre Dame Law professor to serve on the commission in the last two decades. Juan Mendez, who directed Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights at the time, served on the commission from 2000 to 2003. Paolo Carozza, now Director of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, served on the commission from 2006 to 2009.
 
The commission post is part-time and mostly unpaid, except for expenses. Like Mendez and Carozza, Cassel would retain a full teaching load, while offering Notre Dame law students learning opportunities to assist in the work of the commission.