Protection from Domestic Violence: Time to Set a New Standard

The National Law Journal, October 2007

1 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2010

Date Written: October 22, 2007


On Oct. 5, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights declared in a landmark "admissibility" decision that it had competence to examine the human rights claims of Jessica Gonzales, a domestic violence survivor from Colorado whose three children were killed when local police failed to enforce a restraining order against her estranged husband. The decision marked the first time the commission recognized that the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, a foundational human rights instrument, imposes affirmative obligations on the United States to protect individuals from private acts of violence. In so deciding, the commission held the United States to well-established international standards and rejected the State Department's position that the declaration does not create such positive obligations. The ruling will permit an ultimate determination as to whether the United States has violated Gonzales' human rights. It also has the potential to spur far broader systemic reforms in U.S. law and policy on domestic violence.

Suggested Citation

Bettinger-Lopez, Caroline, Protection from Domestic Violence: Time to Set a New Standard (October 22, 2007). The National Law Journal, October 2007, Available at SSRN:

Caroline Bettinger-Lopez (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States
305-284-5923 (Phone)


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