Country Studies

Anaya Muñoz, A. and Saltalamacchia Ziccardi, N. (2013) ‘México y la reforma al Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos’, Pensamiento Propio, vol. 38, pp. 49-88.

This article explores Mexico’s recent behavior towards the IAHRS, including in the framework of the discussions and negotiations regarding the “strengthening” of the latter. The article’s conclusion in this sense is that Mexico has consistently behaved as a “good member of the club”. The article furthermore identifies a series of arguments that may account for this behavior.

Bernardi, B. B. (2013) ‘O sistema interamericano de direitos humanos e a lei de justiça e paz na Colômbia: política doméstica e influência de normas internacionais’, Contexto Internacional vol. 35, pp. 139-172.

The aim of this article is to analyse the influence of norms produced by the Inter-American Human Rights System in a case of transitional justice: Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law. The author argues that the dynamics and character of the interaction between judges and domestic human rights non-governmental organizations were key factors which ultimately shaped the impact of the Inter-American system.

Bernardi, B. B. (2015), ‘O sistema interamericano de direitos humanos e a justiça de transição no Peru’, Revista de Sociologia e Política, vol. 23, no. 54, p. 43-68.

This article analyses how and why the norms of the IAHRS on transitional justice were to have an impact on the human rights trials in Peru. The research seeks to unravel how domestic politics influences and mediates the potential impact of these international norms, highlighting the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local higher courts, since these actors are central both to the process of transitional justice and for the activation and enforcement of the Inter-American system’s rules.

Bernardi, B. B. (2015), ‘O sistema interamericano e a justiça de transição no México’, Lua Nova, no. 94, pp. 143-181.

This article discusses how and why the norms of the Inter-American Human Rights System on transitional justice convened under the Rosendo Radilla ruling against the Mexican state exerted an impact on human rights issues in Mexico. Based on the emerging theoretical approach according to which the effects of international human rights regimes are conditioned by domestic factors of the target-countries, our research seeks to unravel how domestic politics influences the potential impact of these international norms that comprise the justice cascade, highlighting the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the local higher court.

Borda, S. and Camilo Sánchez, N. (2013), ‘La administración Santos y el proceso de reforma del Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos: De la negación y las concesiones tácticas al estatus prescriptivo’, Pensamiento Propio, vol. 38, pp.151-184.

The article suggests that Colombia’s traditional behaviour in relation to human rights and at the international level has combined high levels of denial and the use of tactical concessions to the international community. However, during the Santos administration, Colombia has taken significant steps towards a prescriptive status. To illustrate this, the paper examines the changes undergone by the Colombian policy on human rights during the Santos administration and analyses Colombia’s position on the IAHRS reform process as a specific example of this policy.

Burt, J. M. (2009) ‘Guilty as charged: the trial of former President Alberto Fujimori for human rights violations’, International Journal of Transitional Justice, vol. 3 no. 3, pp. 384-405.

The prosecution and conviction of Alberto Fujimori, former president of Peru, marked a watershed in efforts to achieve accountability after atrocity in Peru and across the globe. This article explores the factors that made the Fujimori trial possible. It argues that the increasingly effective use of the IAHRS was of special importance here. Once Peru’s transition to democracy was under way, the author states, the rich jurisprudence of the Court, as well as the recommendations of the Commission, fundamentally shaped the policies regarding truth, justice and reparations adopted by the transitional government and key judicial bodies in Peru.

Collins, C. (2006) ‘Grounding Global Justice: International Networks and Domestic Human Rights Accountability in Chile and El Salvador’, Journal of Latin American Studies vol. 38 (2006), pp. 711-738.

This article questions the concept, as well as the practical efficacy, of globalised civil society action or ‘human rights lawyering’ as a trigger for the prosecution of past human rights violations. The article argues that domestic factors, including domestic actor pressure and national judicial change, have proved more significant than international law or international activism in recent re-irruptions of the human rights accountability issue in the Southern Cone. The case of El Salvador, meanwhile, shows that transnational initiatives, while occasionally successful in their own right, have not been able to interrupt or foreshorten domestic post-transitional trajectories to the extent of independently creating favourable accountability conditions.

Davis, J. and Warner, E. (2007) ‘Reaching Beyond the State: Judicial Independence, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and Accountability in Guatemala’, Journal of Human Rights vol. 6, pp. 233-255.

The authors examine the role of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in its efforts to impose accountability for human rights violations in Latin America. They suggest that because domestic enforcement mechanisms are irreconcilably deficient in this task, accountability must emanate from beyond the state. They test this contention by examining one of the most challenging nations in the region – Guatemala.

Due Process of Law Foundation (2007), Victims Unsilenced: The Inter-American Human Rights System and Transitional Justice in Latin America, Washington: Due Process of Law Foundation.

This report examines the influence of the Commission and the Court on four nations: Argentina, Guatemala, Peru, and El Salvador. The study assesses why the Inter-American system has had varying results with respect to transitional justice processes, despite having developed some of the most progressive jurisprudence in the world on the subjects of accountability, remedies, and due process. It argues that, despite inherent limitations, the Commission and the Court have proven to be courageous and principled allies of victims, civil societies and states alike, as transitional justice initiatives have both stumbled and succeeded over the years.

Dutrénit, S. (2012) ‘Sentencias de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos y reacciones estatales. (México y Uruguay ante los delitos del pasado)’, América Latina Hoy vol. 61, pp. 79-99.

Between 2009 and 2011 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued two condemnatory verdicts against Mexico and Uruguay. The cases can be seen as paradigmatic of the repressive legacy of the seventies and eighties. Though the political development of regimes in these two states was very different, the crimes committed by them share a number of similarities. The political contexts in which the legacy of human rights violations was later debated was also very different. This article explores the background to the Court sentences, the official responses to the judgements, and the rationale behind these.

Dutrénit, S. and Castro, A. B. (2010) ‘A doscientos años, cuentas estatales por saldar ante la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos’, Estudios, Revista del Centro de Estudios Avanzados de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, vol. 23-24, pp. 73-90.

This article looks at the apparent contradiction of Latin American states whose institutions and constitutions include firm commitments to uphold political, social and economic rights, but which continue to find themselves before the Inter-American System for having violating basic elements of the American Convention on Human Rights, and other HR protocols and instruments. The analysis focuses on two cases against Mexico and Uruguay at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Despite marked differences in these countries’ historical environment, legal framework and political transitions, both share difficulties in complying with mandatory international human rights laws.

Engstrom, P. (2013) ‘A Special Relationship Gone Normal? Argentina and the Inter-American Human Rights System, 1979-2013’, Pensamiento Propio, vol. 38, pp. 115-150.

This article examines the relationship between Argentina and the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS) as it has developed over time. It proceeds in two main parts. The first unpacks the ways in which Argentina’s relationship has been shaped by domestic political changes, i.e. democratization. Three overlapping, yet distinct, human rights arenas, are examined: civil society mobilisation, constitutional and judicial politics, and state institutions. The second part reverses the analytical focus and highlights what the specific case of Argentina can tell us about the development of the IAHRS, and, in particular, emphasises the extent to which Argentina has found itself at the vanguard of human rights struggles within and around the IAHRS. Yet, as this article demonstrates, Argentina’s relationship with the IAHRS has become increasingly strained in recent years, which demonstrates once more that human rights progress tends to be uneven and prone to reversals.

Helfer, L. R. (2002) ‘Overlegalizing Human Rights: International Relations Theory and the Commonwealth Caribbean Backlash against Human Rights Regimes’, Columbia Law Review vol. 102, no. 7 , pp. 1832-1911.

This article seeks to understand why, in the late 1990s, three Commonwealth Caribbean governments denounced human rights treaties and withdrew from the jurisdiction of international tribunals. The study of this backlash has two objectives. The first is to show how overlegalising human rights can lead even liberal democracies to reconsider their commitment to international institutions that protect those rights. The second objective is to assess three competing international relations theories that seek to explain the conditions under which states comply with their treaty commitments. To provide a more persuasive analysis of these issues, the article includes empirical data analysing changes in the filing and review of international human rights petitions against Caribbean governments during the 1990s.

Piovesan, F. (2013) Dirietos Humanos e o Direito Constitucional Internacional, 14th edition, Brasilia: Saraiva, pp.  217-246.

This book examines the impact of the IAHRS as one of a number of international norms and mechanisms shaping human rights and constitutional law in Brazil. It looks at the way in which Brazilian law incorporates international instruments of human rights protection, and in what sense these instruments can contribute to strengthening the implementation of rights system in Brazil. Of particular interest is chapter VII which focuses on the normative human rights structure in the region in the Americas, and the impact of the IAHRS.

Reis, R. (2013) ‘O Brasil e o Sistema Interamericano de Direitos Humanos: elementos para compreender a crise “Belo Monte”’, Pensamiento Propio, vol. 38, pp. 19-48.

The purpose of this article is to discuss the historic relationship of Brazil with the IAHRS and, in particular, the impact of such history on the recent “legitimacy crisis” that culminated with the system’s reform in the early months of 2013. It is argued that the promotion and protection of human rights is a highly politicised issue that is becoming ever more central in the Brazilian public debate.

Sandoval, C. (2008), ‘The Challenge of Impunity in Peru: The Significance of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’, University of Essex Research Repository vol. 5 no. 1, pp. 1-20.

This article is about the IACtHR, one of the participants in the process of transitional justice in Peru, and the significance of its judgments in Barrios Altos and La Cantuta to the fight against impunity in that country. The article begins with a brief introduction to Fujimori’s government, followed by an analysis of the role played by the IASHR, both Commission and Court, but primarily by the latter. This section also analyses the cases of Barrios Altos and La Cantuta and their relationship to the extradition of Fujimori and his prosecution in Peru. The article concludes with some remarks in relation to the decisive role that institutions such as the IACtHR, which are not acknowledged as protagonists of processes of transitional justice, can have in establishing their limits and possibilities and, more importantly, in seizing political opportunities to help in their development.

Santos, C. (2007) ‘Transnational Legal Activism and the State: Reflections on Cases against Brazil in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’, Sur-International Journal on Human Rights vol. 7 no. 4, pp. 29-59.

This paper seeks to show that the practices of local and transnational human rights NGOs in the cases they brought against Brazil before the IACHR constitute an example of transnational legal activism. However, as the case-study will illustrate, their achievements, though important, have been very limited, both because of the precarious effectiveness of international human rights law and the internal contradictions and heterogeneity of the Brazilian State in the field of human rights. In addition to an overview of the cases against Brazil in the IACHR, the article presents a closer examination of three cases concerning the “memory battle” in the Araguaia Guerrilla case; the issue of domestic violence addressed in the case of Maria da Penha; and the issue of racial discrimination addressed in the case of Simone Diniz. Each of these cases is cited as evidence that the discourses and practices of the State regarding human rights issues are heterogeneous and contradictory at the national and local levels of administration.

Santos, C. M. (2010), ‘Memória na Justiça: A mobilização dos direitos humanos e a construção da memória da ditadura no Brasil’, Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais, vol. 88, pp. 127-154.

This article examines the role of the mobilisation of human rights in constructing the memory of the dictatorship in Brazil, based on the Araguaia Guerrilla case, brought before the national courts in 1982 and forwarded to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1995 and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2009. An analysis of the case reveals that, not only the state but also non-government organisations and civil proceedings, play a significant role in the processes of creating political memories.

Torelly, M. and Abrão, P. (2012) ‘Resistance to Change: Brazil’s persistent amnesty and its alternatives for Truth and Justice’, in Lessa. F. and Payne, L. (eds), Amnesty in the Age of Human Rights Accountability, New York: Cambridge University Press.

This chapter analyses transitional justice in Brazil, particularly the developments in the fields of reparation and memory, and the reasons behind the persistence of the 1979 amnesty law for perpetrators of grave human rights violations. It argues that the policy of reparations to victims is the lynchpin of the Brazilian transitional justice agenda, a mechanism that has fostered progress in the recovery of truth and memory and, more recently, in justice. The concluding section will be of particular interest to scholars and students of the IAHRS as it discusses the interaction and conflicts between national and regional level rulings in achieving truth and justice for Brazil’s human rights victims.

Wilson, R. (2003) ‘United States Detainees at Guantanamo Bay: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Responds to a “Legal Black Hole”’, Human Rights Brief vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 1-5.

This articles examines the circumstances and outcomes of a 2002 petition to the Commission regarding the US detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Drafted by one of the petitioners, the article describes how the 2002 submission was designed to bring together existing evidence regarding the status and treatment of the Guantánamo detainees, bring media and community attention to the situation of the detainees, and obtain a prompt and hopefully favourable interpretation of the international legal obligations of the United States with regard to those detainees. According to the author, the petition accomplished all of those goals.