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Judges as Guardians of Constitutionalism and Human Rights

Judges as Guardians of Constitutionalism and Human Rights

Edited by Martin Scheinin, Helle Krunke and Marina Aksenova

This book considers the many challenges that national and supranational judges have to face when fulfilling their roles as guardians of constitutionalism and human rights. The contributors, both academics and judges, discuss key examples of contemporary challenges to judging – including the nature of courts’ legitimacy and its alleged dependence on public support; the role of judges in upholding constitutional values in the times of transition to democracy, surveillance and the fight against terrorism; and the role of international judges in guaranteeing globally recognized fundamental rights and freedoms.

Chapter 14: The judicial dialogue between international and national courts in the Inter-American human rights system

Carlos Ayala

Subjects: law - academic, constitutional and administrative law, criminal law and justice, human rights, law and society


Former President of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Professor of Constitutional Law. Domestic courts must follow the track of the corresponding international jurisprudence. Therefore, there must be a responsible and respectful dialogue between domestic courts and the international court, which is the authentic and final interpreter of the rights established by the relevant treaty. This process takes place between the European Court of Human Rights and the European courts, and between the Inter-American Human Rights Court (IACtHR) and the American courts. Therefore, as opposed to horizontal interstate dialogues going on between constitutional courts and supranational dialogues occurring between international courts, this judicial dialogue is vertical since it happens between the regional international court of human rights and the national courts subject to its jurisdiction of the relevant treaty. The chapter explores different modalities of the latter type of dialogue occurring between the IACtHR and the American courts. Particular focus is on the legal techniques that enable mutual cross-fertilization between different jurisdictions. This exercise reveals, on the overall, an increasing openness of national systems towards the international system.

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