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Human Rights Experts Meet at U.S. Southern Command

By Staff Writer
United States Department of Defense

August 27, 2014 - Military and civilian human rights experts from 15 Western Hemisphere nations are meeting here at U.S. Southern Command's headquarters Aug. 26-28 to discuss the Southcom-sponsored Human Rights Initiative and the protection of human rights in the command's area of responsibility.

The meeting is called the Human Rights Initiative Officers' Workshop and includes the participation of defense, government, academic, and nongovernmental organization representatives from Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, the United States and Uruguay.

Participating agencies and organizations include the U.S. State Department, Office of the Secretary of Defense, International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Center for Human Rights Training, a Costa Rica-based human rights NGO that serves as the HRI Secretariat. Human rights experts from NGOs based in six countries are also participating.

HRI is a program initiated by Southcom in 1997. The programseeks to bring together representatives of military, security forces, civilian government and civil society to develop a model human rights program for military forces focused in four areas: doctrine, education and training, internal control systems, and cooperation with civilian authorities.

Southcom's Human Rights Office supports, or has supported in the past, the efforts of 10 countries -- Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay -- and one regional organization, the Conference of Central American Armed Forces , that have made a formal commitment to implement HRI within their armed forces.

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