Life as We Know It: The Expansion of the Right to Life Under the Jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Alexandra R. Harrington
Global Institute for Health and Human Rights; Albany Law School
September 6, 2012
Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review, Forthcoming
Albany Law School Research Paper No. 6 of 2012-2013
The idea of protecting life within the context of human rights law is perhaps elemental since, as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has explained on numerous occasions, without protecting life all other human rights protections are meaningless. Indeed, a survey of international and regional human rights treaties and conventions demonstrates the uniformity of inclusion of the right to life as a guaranteed right across divergent state parties and instrument promulgation goals.
And yet, the terms of the right to life and the construction of its meaning do vary between instruments. Of course, the meaning of these provisions depends not only on a plain text reading but also on the construction of these provisions by the appropriate international or regional body.
This article focuses on the Inter-American Court of Human Right’s creation of a body of jurisprudence regarding the right to life that has expanded and become increasingly nuanced throughout the Court’s history. The Court is selected for analysis because, as the Court itself admits, it is at the forefront of developing human rights law and because it offers a strong example of how the right to life can be used by a juridical body to reflect the many facets of life and to holistically incorporate these facets into jurisprudence which protects life for individuals and communities.
Studying the expansion of the Court’s jurisprudential construction of the right to life illustrates that the contours of life as we know it have changed – and will change – in order to ensure that they reflect and protect the intricate tapestry of human rights that are encompassed by the right to life. Ultimately, this article concludes with the observation that the Court’s expansion of the right to life as we know it is essential for maintaining the Inter-American human rights system as a vibrant mechanism of jurisprudence on human rights.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 39
Keywords: human rights, Inter-American court, international
Date posted: September 6, 2012