Human rights in the Americas

On Nov. 12, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Governance Village, the organization of American States, and Canadian International Council (CIC) hosted an e-conference on human rights in the Americas.

The Copenhagen Summit planned for December was a popular topic of discussion in the internet-based talks. While climate change will be the focus of Copenhagen talks, other issues have also found their way on to the agenda.

Alyson Zureick, a member of the online discussion, hinted that the “outcome of the summit could have important implications for the rights of indigenous peoples.”

Another factor that is affecting indigenous rights within the Americas is non-state actors infringing on the freedom of expression of citizens. However, as Bob Vennings points out, countering these attacks on individual rights is a daunting task.

Later on in the discussion, Christopher Mason cleverly suggests that “perhaps the court system is one way of establishing a legal framework for improving freedom of expression.”

Other participants agree that it is the responsibility of the international community to financially and legally support the cause. This would aid in achieving freedom of expression.

For example, NGOs, among other entities, are attempting to achieve freedom of speech in Colombia. Michael Middleton concludes the discussion by stating that “the best strategy for the international community is to ensure that the political structure is set up in such a way that once the threat is removed, freedom of expression will be an inevitable consequence.”

E-conferences are online forums of discussion that anyone can participate in. Links to the conferences are provided on the CIGI website.