Research Handbooks in Human Rights series
Edited by Robert Kolb and Gloria Gaggioli
Chapter 22: The Inter-American Court of Human Rights and international humanitarian law
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights was established by the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) and adopted in November 1969 by the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS). From the end of the 1970s to 2011, the judicial body of the ACHR delivered more or less 200 judgments and 20 advisory opinions, and one of the main features of its practice is that most of the time, it deals with grave and massive violations of Human Rights. Forced disappearances, extra- judicial killings, detentions in communicado, torture, rapes and other ill treatments, committed by public agents (police and security forces) or paramilitary groups acting in the name of the States are still denounced before the Inter-American Court. Another feature of the Inter-American situation of Human Rights is that the American States involved in the judicial procedure before the Court are in general very new democratic regimes. Others are still facing non-international armed conflicts such as Colombia, Peru or El Salvador. The consequence of the concrete political situation of the American Continent is that the Framework of the Inter-American System of Protection of Human Rights is quite different from the European System, born after the Second World War within pacified and democratic States. Another feature of the Inter-American System rests on the way the Inter-American Court functions. Compared to the Strasbourg Court, the Tribunal of San José has developed very special methods of interpretation of the ACHR and especially, the holist interpretation of Human Rights.
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