Trayectoria profesional, académica, los cargos que ha desempeñado en la función pública, su trayectoria internacional, el detallede las conferencias que ha pronunciado en el país y en el exterior, sus publicaciones y en particular, información sobre Derechos Humanos, Ombudsman, Defensor del Pueblo, derecho al desarrollo, derechos de usuarios y consumidores, globalización y su actividad profesional actual.

Suiza

"El rol de las instituciones nacionales en la protección de los derechos económicos, sociales y culturales", pronunciada en el Foro-Debate realizado durante el 55° Período de sesiones de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, Ginebra, 21 de abril de 1999.

“International Co-ordination Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

55° Session of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations Organisation

Geneva, April 19-23, 1999.

Mr. Chairman of the International Co-ordination Committee of National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, Justice M. N. VENKATACHALIAH, Representatives of the National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It constitutes a high honour for me to pronounce these few words as Defensor del Pueblo of the Argentine Nation -National Ombudsman- and President of the International Ombudsman Institute.

As it occurs in other places of Latin America, region to which our dear colleague and friend Mireille Roccatti has already referred to, the Ombudsman Institution is closely related to the protection of Human Rights.

The young democracies of this area have resorted to this figure for more security before the increasing need to offer the integral protection of basic rights. In other words, they have resorted to a prestigious and renowned Institution which had not originally been designed to fulfil this function, but which, in Latin America, was entrusted, from the very first moment, with such a delicate mission, following the model of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

I am making reference to a model, not to its image since, as in other parts of the world, the Ombudsman institution offers peculiar and distinctive traits in our region.

In this sense, I would like to express that the Defensor del Pueblo of the Argentine Nation is the only Institution of the Argentine State which has been entrusted by the Magna Carta with the main mission of defending and protecting human rights apart from all other rights, guarantees and interests safeguarded in the Constitution and the laws before the actions and omissions of the administration and it has been granted legal standing.

It should be highlighted that the protection which the Defensor del Pueblo of the Argentine Nation exercises in relation with the human rights includes not only the traditional or first generation rights (life, freedom, dignity) but also the economic, social and cultural ones, known as “second generation rights” as well as the “third generation” human rights or rights of solidarity which go beyond the selfishness and exclusivity of the individual rights, the sectorial interest of the social ones and which find their basis in their collective incidence as in the case of the rights of users and consumers, the right to a balanced environment, to the protection of cultural and historical values of the community.

As I have already stated, the owners of these rights are not only the individuals but also the groups of persons who, in some way or other, form the “vulnerable groups”. These are made up by those whose rights, due to diverse circumstances or conditions, are more easily damaged, infringed or violated. We find these groups in every society, offering a greater vulnerability before the attacks, by action or omission, to their rights. Thus, for instance, there are the pensioners, the aborigines, the handicapped, the unemployed, the sick people in public hospitals, the abandoned children, the inmates deprived of their freedom, the users of public services, etc.

In order to ensure the effectiveness of the protection offered by the Defensor del Pueblo of the Argentine Nation in this area to these vulnerable groups, the proceedings carried before the Institution I represent, as it occurs in other colleague institutions around the world, are flexible, prompt, and easily accessed by the citizenship.

Fortunately, today, in my country, the infringement of the “first generation” human rights, i.e., to life, freedom and dignity does not constitute the priority demanded by the society before the Institution I represent. On the contrary, most of the proceedings we handle -almost the 45%- are related to issues generated by the action of monopolic public utilities and another 40% to the violation of the rights of pensioners, violations to the environment and the right to health.

To this respect, I could say that, among other actions, I have denounced the Supreme Court of Justice of my country before the Inter American Human Rights Commission for its delay in the attention of over 65,000 legal suits filed due to problems in the payment of pension benefits. I also investigated the lack of medicine for the rehabilitation of drug-addicts; the transfer to third parties of lands reserved to aboriginal communities; the expiration of thousand doses of vaccines; the lack of an adequate treatment of pathological wastes; the lack of medicine for the treatment of AIDS.

Notwithstanding this, I must explain that complaints -in a few number- are received against the abuses committed by the police and the security forces. These complaints give rise to investigations tending to clarify the situation as well as to find the causes generating them. For instance, I could name a case in which, protecting the basic human rights of the inmates of a penitentiary institution of an Argentine province, I filed an action for the protection of constitutional rights (acción de amparo) against the Provincial Executive. The courts resolved against this situation and ordered the effective resolution of the problems faced by these people.

This special profile of the Ombudsman, which stands separately from the classic control over “maladministration”, adopting the role of Human Rights protector -a real agent of peace and an effective tool against corruption- has transcended the Iberoamerican region and has been received by diverse Asian, African and European (specially from the East) countries and its existence can be verified at a national, provincial, state and municipal level, with diverse names in Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bermuda, Bosnia Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, European Union, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macao, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, The Netherlands, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Western Samoa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Ombudsman Institution, under any of the profiles mentioned, has shown a quick development world-wide, specially in those countries which have undergone long periods of authoritarian governments, since this Institution becomes a component which guarantees the respect for the basic rights of all the inhabitants of the new democratic state.

In fulfilling such a mission, the Ombudsman undoubtedly deserves the greatest attention and acknowledgement by the international organs devoted to the defence and protection of Human Rights, thus contributing to cherishing the hope that all the countries around the world may institutionalise this figure, giving their inhabitants the possibility of resorting to this Institution with a soul.

It is precisely in the core of this world context, where the importance of the International Ombudsman Institute -I.O.I.-, founded in 1978, finds its relevance as a non governmental organisation joining Ombudsmen of the public sector from all over the world, with the aim of promoting the creation and strengthening of this figure.

The I.O.I. is a non profit international organisation, which receives the administrative support of the Faculty of Law of the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada and it is made up by six regions: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America.

Through the 107 Voting Ombudsmen which make it up (notwithstanding the fact that it also has Associate Members, Honorary Life Members, Individual Members, and Library Members), the I.O.I. certainly helps the citizens it serves to have an effective access to the defence and protection of their human rights,

It is precisely for this reason that, in the Final Declaration of the VI International Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute, held in the city of Buenos Aires in October 1996, the human rights issue was considered in two of its six points.

Ratifying the effective role the Ombudsman fulfils in the promotion and safeguard of human rights, we must bear in mind that, at the threshold of the XXI Century, humanity itself has become the greatest threat to its mere existence. The proliferation of nuclear weapons during the Cold War has given place to a similarly sombre perspective: the constant risk of ethnic conflicts, violence and instability in many countries. Derived effects include the degradation of the environment, poverty, marginalisation, overpopulation, migrations and flagrant social inequalities.

A proof of this is that the international community has proposed the establishment of the Ombudsman in Kosovo.