The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has elected Elizabeth Odio Benito, a Costa Rican, as its new president, the judicial organization announced Friday in a press release.
Odio will begin her two-year term on Jan. 1, 2020. It will mark the second time in its history than the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has a female president.
“Judge Odio is a leading reference in the defense and promotion of human rights worldwide,” said Judge Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot, the outgoing president, in a statement.
In the press release, Odio thanked the members for their votes and voiced her commitment to social justice.
“The region faces great challenges that require a perspective that integrates unrestricted respect for human rights as a central point to the problems that affect us,” she said.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights was established by the Organization of American States (OAS) in May of 1979. Its headquarters were moved to San José in September of that year.
Odio, 80, was born in Costa Rica on Sept. 15, 1939. She has been a judge on the Inter-American Court since 2016 and brings to the presidency more than 50 years of experience defending human rights. Prior to her work on the Inter-American Court, she served as Costa Rica’s Minister of Justice, Attorney General, Minister for the Environment and Energy, and Vice President.
Judge Patricio Pazmiño Freire (Ecuador) will serve as Odio’s Vice President on the Inter-American Court.