Postgraduate Fellow Spotlight: Rodrigo Ayala Miret ’22

A man wearing suit stands before a glass-fronted building with the words "ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES" and a row of flags from various countries above the door.
Rodrigo Ayala Miret ’22 at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, D.C., where he is a Robina Fellow.

Rodrigo Ayala Miret ’22 discusses his time so far pursuing a Robina International Human Rights Fellowship at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, D.C. 

How long have you been working as a Robina Fellow and at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights?
I started in August 2022, so I’ve been working as a Robina Fellow at the IACHR for over 10 months now. Time flies!

What does your work at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights entail?
The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) with the mission to promote and protect human rights throughout the Americas. Within the commission, I am based in the Follow-up of Recommendations and Impact section, which was created in 2018. In my role, I analyze and prepare reports and other technical documents regarding the compliance and implementation of the IACHR’s recommendations by member States. I work to identify advances and challenges in this implementation, as well as new strategies to increase decision compliance.

I also work with the Observatory of Impact, which focuses on documenting and analyzing IACHR’s impact on human rights in the Americas. As the observatory is a recent initiative, I have been involved in shaping its objectives and strategies, especially with regards to defining and evaluating “impact.” 

For my fellowship project, I am working to enhance the effectiveness of Inter-American norms, standards, and decisions by fostering collaboration between the IACHR and the political bodies of OAS member States. Specifically, I am working to identify all legislative recommendations made by the Commission since 2001. By establishing direct communication and providing technical support to National Congresses, my goal is to promote the proper implementation of these recommendations. 

Describe a project you’ve worked on.
In addition to my previous project, I am contributing to the drafting of two crucial documents for the IACHR to strengthen compliance with its recommendations. The first document, Guidelines for Formulating Recommendations, aims to enhance the methodologies used to draft recommendations by establishing criteria to guide in the creation of effective measures. 

The second document, titled Guidelines for Determining Levels of Compliance with IACHR Recommendations, will be a public resolution. Its main goal is to reflect and expand upon the objective criteria that the IACHR will employ to evaluate implementation. At the same time, it will provide helpful guidance to states on how to implement the IACHR’s recommendations properly, in order to work towards full compliance.

These documents will represent a significant methodological advancement by facilitating the implementation of the measures and reparations the Commission recommends to promote human rights. Their approval is expected during the IACHR’s upcoming session in July 2023.

“I came to understand how important it is for multilateral bodies to engage with states not only through traditional diplomatic channels, but also by establishing direct collaboration mechanisms with state organs. Although this approach may be more complex and require more resources, I believe it can enhance these bodies’ impact.” 
— Rodrigo Ayala Miret ’22
Robina Fellow

I came to understand how important it is for multilateral bodies to engage with states not only through traditional diplomatic channels, but also by establishing direct collaboration mechanisms with state organs. Although this approach may be more complex and require more resources, I believe it can enhance these bodies’ impact. 

The Robina Fellowship has been an amazing opportunity for me to advocate for this idea and help increase the effectiveness of the Inter-American system.

What do you hope to gain from this fellowship experience?
During these months of work, I have learned a lot from my colleagues and witnessed the crucial work happening at the commission. This experience has allowed me to develop stronger professional skills, gain new perspectives, and acquire practical knowledge that deepens my understanding of opportunities and challenges in the international protection of human rights.

In addition, being in Washington, D.C. is a fascinating experience, as it allows me to connect with people working in international organizations, government agencies, universities, and think tanks, whose actions all have a global impact. Making these important connections and gaining new insights through the city’s multicultural environment has been extremely valuable.

Lastly, I am thrilled to be part of the Bernstein and Robina Fellows’ community. Having their support and learning from their experiences is incredibly rewarding. This fellowship has been an invaluable experience, and I am truly grateful for this opportunity. 

What have been some of the challenges of this work?
Although it is very valuable, the broad mandate of the Commission can present some challenges. This mandate encompasses a wide number of rights and applies to countries with varying state capacities and different levels of engagement.

Furthermore, the IACHR recommends general measures in response to human rights violations, in addition to individual reparations. In other words, the Commission not only requests reparations for specific victims but can recommend that states adopt structural or non-repetition measures. The goal is to modify the conditions that allowed for these violations and prevent them from happening again. These recommendations are complex, as they involve legislative reforms, public policies, and other measures of institutional impact. 

This distinctive feature of the Inter-American system adds complexity to the formulation, follow-up, and implementation of recommendations, which poses a challenge.

What experiences motivated you to pursue this opportunity?
My academic and professional focus on human rights, as well as constitutional law and political science, motivated me to pursue a Robina Fellowship. During my time at Yale, I had the opportunity to pursue an interdisciplinary education, which provided me with a deeper understanding of the relationship between the protection of human rights and the internal capacity and functioning of states.

At Yale, I learned the importance of bolstering the active engagement of member states’ political bodies within the Inter-American system to protect human rights more effectively. While engagement from the judicial systems is crucial, the protection of human rights should primarily occur within the political sphere. This is for two main reasons: first, not all individuals have the resources or opportunity to access justice through the judiciary. Moreover, even when courts are accessible, political bodies possess greater capacity and democratic legitimacy to bring about necessary structural changes.