The Jurisprudence of the Inter-American Human Rights System: Standard-setting or International Law-making?

Event date
13 May 2021
Event time
13:00 - 14:15
Oxford week
TT 3
Online Zoom Event
Ignacio de Casas , Austral University, Argentina
If you wish to participate in this (remote) seminar, RSVP is necessary. Please complete the form before noon Wednesday 12 May (please note that if you register after noon, a link cannot be sent to you).  Prior to the Thursday seminar, you will be sent a zoom link to join. Please note the start time of 13.00.

The terms ‘international human rights standards’ or ‘inter-American human rights standards’ are often used by the Inter-American human rights bodies as almost a synonym for human rights or the obligations that States have in this area. In their discourse, these ‘standards’ are usually considered not to refer solely to the normative expression of human rights in treaties, custom or general principles of law. On the contrary, such expression is given a use that also includes non-binding instruments whose normative (legal) content is doubtful or, at least, its bindingness is not expressly declared or recognized by any international rule (e.g., declarations, resolutions of international organizations, judicial decisions, views and general comments of treaty bodies, case law of the Commission, etc.).

In recent years, the Inter-American Commission in particular has produced many thematic reports of so called ‘Inter-American standards’, which are compendia of the jurisprudence of the Court and the Commission. They contain no clear definition of the concept of standards. Yet, inadvertently or boldly, they are invoked as a rule of conduct (source of obligations) for States, even when their content has clearly not been determined by, or based on, the traditional sources of international law.

It is possible that this term is used as a performative utterance, pursuing a specific ideological intentionality with the meaning attributed (i.e., a progressive case for human rights). Is the jurisprudence of both the Inter-American Commission and Court a source of international law? Have they attributed themselves a law-making power?

C. Ignacio de Casas is an adjunct professor at Austral University in Argentina, where he also coordinates the Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Law. Prior to that, he worked for a law firm focussing on human rights international litigation. He has an Abogado degree from the University of Mendoza, a masters from the University of Oxford and is a PhD candidate at Austral University. He is also co-founder of the Centro Latinoamericano de Derechos Humanos (CLADH).

The PIL Discussion Group hosts a weekly speaker event and is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford.  Due to the current public health emergency, the PIL Discussion Group series will be held remotely for Trinity 2021. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law.  The speaker will commence at 13.00 and speak for about forty minutes, allowing about twenty-five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude before 14.15. 

PIL Discussion Group Convenors: Xiaotian (Kris) Yu and Natasha Holcroft-Emmes

The group typically meets each Thursday during Oxford terms. 

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PIL Discussion Group

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Public International Law