The Inter-American System for Human Rights: Operation And Achievements

37 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2013

See all articles by Ludovic Hennebel

Ludovic Hennebel

Aix-Marseille University, Law School of Aix-en-Provence, CERIC, UMR DICE; Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Date Written: July 9, 2008


The Inter-American system for Human Rights is one of the three major regional human rights systems, along with the European and the African human rights arrangements. It is a creation of the Organization of American States (OAS) and has evolved considerably over the past decades. The system as such is atypical. The Inter-American System of Human Rights not a single homogeneous regime, but rather an intricate set of norms, institutions and mechanisms. First, it rests upon two overlapping instruments, namely the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (1948) and the American Convention on Human Rights (1969). Second, the inter-American system is bipartite since two institutions – the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court – are in charge of supervising the obligations of the members of the OAS. As it is, the current configuration of the inter-American system was largely unplanned. In other words, it was constructed piece by piece following the slow rhythm of diplomatic negotiations and temporary arrangements that have eventually become permanent.

With the understanding that double dualism – both institutional and normative – is the key to comprehending the inter-American system as a whole, the first section of this chapter provides an overview of the institutional and normative framework of the Inter-American Human Rights System. This system has produced a creative and stimulating legal framework. Inter-American human rights law, as applied, interpreted, and developed by the Commission and the Court, has reached a level of maturity and authority that can longer be ignored by academic literature. The achievements of the Inter-American Human Rights System, mainly through inter-American case law, are the focus of the second section of this chapter.

Keywords: American Convention, Human Rights, International Law

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Hennebel, Ludovic, The Inter-American System for Human Rights: Operation And Achievements (July 9, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Ludovic Hennebel (Contact Author)

Aix-Marseille University, Law School of Aix-en-Provence, CERIC, UMR DICE ( email )

Faculté de Droit et de SP., 3 av. Robert Schuman

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) ( email )

CP 132 Av FD Roosevelt 50
Brussels, Brussels 1050


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