José Francisco "Pancho" Calí Tzay

Lecturer in Law and Associate Director, IPLP Human Rights Clinical Programs

Francisco Cali, a Mayan Cakchiquel from Guatemala who served for 16 years as a member of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), is the first Indigenous member of a UN Treaty body. He was served as CERD’s President from 2014 to 2016 and as the Chairman of CERD’s Early Warning/Urgent Action Procedure from 2017 to December 2019. He represented Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations since the early 1980’s, addressing human rights violations against the Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala and around the world. He was an active participant over many years in the Intersessional Working on Group for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, both as a representative of the International Indian Treaty Council and delegate with the government of Guatemala.

Mr. Calí Tzay is Maya Kaqchikel from Guatemala, with experience in defending the rights of Indigenous Peoples, both in Guatemala and at the level of the United Nations and the OAS.

He was founder and member of a different indigenous organizations in Guatemala and as well Ambassador of Guatemala to the Federal Republic of Germany and was President of the Committee for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty body from which he was elected for four consecutive periods of 4 years each. 

He was Director of Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala; he was member of the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism against Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala (CODISRA) and President of the National Reparation Program for Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict.