The Inter-American System of Human Rights: Challenges for the Future

17 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2009

See all articles by Claudio Grossman

Claudio Grossman

American University - Washington College of Law

Date Written: Fall 2008


The Inter-American system is a combination of human rights norms and supervisory institutions within the Americas. The institutions involved are the organs responsible for supervising compliance with the established rules: the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the Court).

The Commission and Court's case law have been significant in advancing the protection of fundamental rights and contributing to such protections throughout the different phases of the system's development. This article describes and analyzes three cases that illustrate the three phases of the Inter-American system's development, provide elements to better understand that system, and assist in analyzing and evaluating its future. More specifically, this article examines the cases of Velasquez Rodriguez v. Honduras (1988), analyzing mass and gross violations of human rights involving forced disappearances in the context of authoritarianism and dictatorships; Barrios Altos v. Peru (2001), addressing the legacy of dictatorships, particularly with regard to impunity; and Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni Community v. Nicaragua (2001), examining the rights of indigenous peoples, and in a broader sense, the status of vulnerable groups and the need to expand and strengthen democracy through their inclusion. The overall purpose of this article is to analyze the Inter-American system of human rights and identify key challenges for the future.

Keywords: Inter-American Commission; Inter-American Courts; human rights

Suggested Citation

Grossman, Claudio, The Inter-American System of Human Rights: Challenges for the Future (Fall 2008). Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 83, p. 1267, 2008, American University, WCL Research Paper No. 09-14, Available at SSRN:

Claudio Grossman (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

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