Rapporteurship on the Rights of Persons of African Descent and against Racial Discrimination


The Rapporteurship on the Rights of Persons of African Descent and against Racial Discrimination is one of the special mechanisms overseen by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission created the Rapporteurship during its 122nd Session in 2005. See, e.g., IACHR, Press Release No. 8/05. Its purpose is to protect the rights of afrodescendants, and to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination by working with the Organization of American States (OAS) Member States to understand the challenges presented and develop recommendations to overcome discrimination.


One of the Commission’s seven Commissioners is selected to be the Rapporteur for a three-year term, which may be renewed once. Each Commissioner serves in an independent capacity and does not represent his or her country of citizenship. The Commissioner who holds the office undertakes his or her work on a part-time basis, including during the three times per year that the Commission is in session. One or more lawyers in the Commission’s Executive Secretariat, in Washington, D.C., assist the Rapporteur.

The Rapporteur has many duties, including conducting country visits to OAS Member States, undertaking specialized studies, and engaging in promotional activities. The Rapporteurship also advises the Commission in its processing of individual petitions, cases, and requests for provisional and precautionary measures that involve racial discrimination and the rights of afrodescendants. On its website, the Rapporteurship lists the Inter-American decisions and judgments related to its mandate.

The Rapporteur has also provided assistance to the Working Group to Prepare Draft Legally Binding Inter-American Instruments against Racism and Racial Discrimination and against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, which is part of the OAS Permanent Council.

Country Visits

The Rapporteurship conducts country visits to OAS Member States, with their consent. The Rapporteur is often accompanied by other members of the Commission or members of the Executive Secretariat staff. During country visits, the Rapporteur engages with persons of African descent and other individuals who face racial discrimination, government officials, and civil society organizations. The visits allow the Rapporteur to expand his or her understanding of the obstacles that afrodescendants and other individuals facing discrimination are encountering. The Rapporteurship provides brief descriptions of its country visits on its webpage, and also links to sections of country reports published by the Commission following more general on-site visits.

Receiving Information

Aside from information gathered during country visits, the Rapporteurship often obtains information through promotional activities on eradicating racial discrimination and protecting the rights of afrodescendants, including the organization of lecture series, workshops, and working meetings. The Rapporteurship is often invited to participate in panel discussions and regional meetings of international experts on afrodescendants’ rights and the elimination of racial discrimination.

Additionally, the Commission holds thematic hearings to gather information from States and civil society on particular issues. The Rapporteur may participate in these hearings or refer to the information discussed in subsequent reports. View the Commission’s searchable database of public hearings to see those related to afrodescendants’ rights and racial discrimination.


The Rapporteurship publishes thematic reports and studies on issues affecting afrodescendants’ rights and racial discrimination. The studies may include recommendations to OAS Member States, providing guidance on how to fulfill their international obligations to protect afrodescendants’ rights and eliminate racial discrimination. The Office of the Rapporteur has a duty to provide the Commission with annual reports of its activities, which the Commission then shares in its own Annual Reports to the OAS General Assembly. The Rapporteurship has collected excerpts of these reports related to its activities through 2009 on its website. To view reports on the Rapporteurship’s activities in more recent years, see the Commission’s annual reports page.


The Rapporteurship may be contacted by:

  • Mail:

Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons of African Descent and against Racial Discrimination
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
1889 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

The Rapporteurship does not receive individual complaints or requests for precautionary measures. Such petitions and requests must be addressed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. For additional information, see the petition form or IJRC’s resources on the Inter-American human rights system.