HIAS Calls for Enhanced Coordination on Displacement in Latin America and the Caribbean 

In an intervention delivered on Wednesday at a gathering of human rights leaders in the Western Hemisphere, Cristina Garcia, HIAS’ Senior Vice President for the Latin America and Caribbean region, called for enhanced coordination and cooperation in addressing forced displacement challenges.

“The existing coordination mechanisms in the region face practical difficulties despite their crucial role in responding to humanitarian emergencies and crises,” Garcia said. “The changing political landscape in the region further exacerbates the fragility of these mechanisms, impacting state participation in coordination mechanisms. The co-existence of multiple mechanisms in several locations leads to challenges such as overlapping responsibilities, duplication of efforts, and fragmented coordination in the field. Furthermore, civil society organizations and NGOs encounter obstacles to fully engaging in these, including limited capacity, a lack of technical knowledge, and a limited governance structure. The dominant role of the UN in decision-making processes can overshadow the voices of civil society, and some states need to be more willing to include civil society actors in critical discussions. These challenges hinder effective coordination and the ability to influence and shape humanitarian responses.”

Garcia was addressing the 187th Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a principal body of the Organization of American States. The commission, which meets in Washington, DC, deliberates specific human rights situations in particular countries in the region or the Americas in general, and issues recommendations regarding respect for and enjoyment of human rights by all individuals.

HIAS has identified a need for more transparency and accountability in implementing the Los Angeles Declaration, particularly considering recent regressive migratory policies across the hemisphere, including the U.S. government’s implementation of the Asylum Ban and reimplementation of Title 8. Specifically, Garcia raised questions regarding the recent establishment of the Safe Mobility Offices in Colombia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, as these initiatives have implications for how collaborative discussions are conducted and potentially restrict individuals from exercising their right to seek protection.

As a Jewish organization dedicated to protecting the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other forcibly displaced people, HIAS has witnessed firsthand the substantial strides taken in recent times to strengthen coordination efforts and cultivate robust international cooperation. Through our extensive involvement and commitment, we have observed remarkable advancements in uniting diverse stakeholders and agencies toward a shared vision of offering protection and support to those forcibly displaced.

Building upon the above, during the 187th Period of Sessions of the IACHR, HIAS called on commissioners to:

  • Recognize the importance of coordination and urge high-level engagement with the United Nations to review the role of civil society in coordination mechanisms in order to enhance their meaningful participation in decision-making processes.
  • Emphasize the need to monitor the implementation of the Los Angeles Declaration under the leadership of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants to foster engagement with signatory states and highlight the importance of a human rights-based approach.
  • Prepare a regional field report focused on human rights violations at international borders in collaboration with relevant UN human rights special procedures. This report is crucial, particularly regarding regressive migratory policies and measures.
  • Encourage efforts to ensure adequate funding for existing coordination mechanisms, particularly at the local level. This includes prioritizing funding for cross-border interventions and focusing on the urgent needs of refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable migrants.

HIAS is firmly committed to promoting coordination, advocating for adequate funding, and advancing the implementation of the Los Angeles Declaration to protect the rights of forcibly displaced people in the region. “Together with the IACHR, UN agencies, governments, and civil society, we can strive to improve the lives of those affected and uphold their fundamental rights in their pursuit of safety, dignity, and opportunity,” Garcia said.

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