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Spring 2022 Reading Group

Regional Human Rights Law: The Inter-American Perspective

Prerequisites: A prior or concurrent course or clinic in international human rights law is recommended but not required.

Exam Type: No Exam

During the last 70 years, the Inter-American System for the protection of human rights is the venue for some of the most significant developments in international law. Placed at the heart of the oldest international organization in existence (the Organization of American States, successor to the Pan-American Union), this complex system of treaties, political and technical institutions and non-governmental relations has reacted to the human rights challenges resulting from colonialism, slavery and racism, political strife and abuse, armed conflict and structural discrimination and inequality. To face these and other challenges the system is a forum in which State responsibility to prevent, create accountability and provide reparation is discussed through cases, research and political dialogue; and the outcomes of all these processes can be systematized under thematic categories to serve as inspiration for policy and programmatic action.

This reading group will explore the historical foundations, current functioning, and future expectations of the Inter-American machinery, and explore four case studies of thematic development: the rights of women and girls, indigenous peoples’ rights, right to truth, and the rights of LGTBI persons. The base for discussion will be provided by scholarly articles, selected Judgements and Reports and international instruments such as Treaties, Declarations and Resolutions. These will create an understanding of the basic functioning of the Inter-American System, with particular emphasis on the achievements of the Inter-American Human Rights Court and Commission, raise some of the critical readings of its limitations, and provide participants with a base for subsequent engagement with the Inter-American machinery.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: January 24, February 7 and 21, March 7 and 21, April 4.