Santiago Canton Appointed Rule of Law Program Director at the Inter-American Dialogue

July 12, 2021
Contact: Inter-American Dialogue 

Washington, DC – The Inter-American Dialogue is pleased to announce the appointment of Santiago Canton as the director of the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program.

An international human rights attorney with extensive leadership experience, Canton will build on and expand the Rule of Law Program’s work to strengthen democracy, human rights, accountability, and press freedom in the Americas. He takes on the position at a crucial moment, with worrying signs of democratic backsliding and acute challenges to the rule of law across the hemisphere. In many countries, high levels of corruption and polarization pose an increasing risk to democratic governance.

Canton was the executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States for eleven years, after serving as the first special rapporteur for freedom of expression. He has held a number of key leadership positions, including director of RFK Partners for Human Rights at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and, more recently, secretary of human rights for the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He also served as a political advisor to President Carter in democratic development programs in Latin America.

“Santiago’s experience and expertise on rule of law and democracy challenges in the hemisphere are unmatched,” said Dialogue President Michael Shifter. “He brings enormous stature to the position. I am confident he will build on many remarkable accomplishments of his stellar career.”

Canton has led more than 50 human rights delegations and has published widely in human rights specialized journals. In 2005, he was awarded the Chapultepec Grand Prize for his contributions to the promotion, development, strengthening, and defense of the principles of freedom of expression throughout the Americas. He holds a law degree from the University of Buenos Aires and a master’s degree in international law from the Washington College of Law of American University.

Canton will lead the robust Rule of Law Program established in 2015 and named in honor of the Dialogue’s founding co-chair. Previous directors include Michael Camilleri and Kevin Casas-Zamora, the latter remaining engaged with the Dialogue as a non-resident senior fellow.