There and Back Again: The Inter-American Human Rights System's Approach to International Humanitarian Law
41 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 8, 2017
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is constantly deciding cases that relate to the conduct of States in times of armed conflict. However, while a trailblazer in the field of human rights, the Court’s record with regard to the advancement of international humanitarian law is less stellar. In this article I will offer an explanation for this disconnect between the Inter-American System and international humanitarian law. Through the analysis of the court’s humanitarian law case-law, I argue that the Inter-American Court has gone through a long process of adaptation to international humanitarian law, starting with promising beginnings in the late-nineties at the Inter-American Commission, continuing through a philosophical shift in the early 2000s that drove the Inter-American Court away from direct application of humanitarian law, and ultimately returning to humanitarian law-friendly causeways in the 2010s. I also point to the risks entailed by a human rights system not well connected to humanitarian law and the reasons why I believe the Court’s disassociation with international humanitarian law seems to be slowly but steadily tending towards a positive evolution.
Keywords: Inter-American Court of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, Armed Conflict, Las Palmeras, Santo Domingo, Chavin de Huantar, False Positives, Lex Specialis, Erga Omnes obligations,
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