Abstract: Since 1988, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has seen its case law and its influence expand. The Court’s opinions, along with the reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have become widely seen by domestic courts as authoritative, thereby realizing many of the promises of international norms and holding Latin American states accountable for their unwillingness or inability to fulfill their international obligations.. Despite this trend, the system of human rights protection has recently come under fire, as have other regional human rights regimes and international courts. States in general, and their courts, in particular, have become less receptive, and at times even opposed to what they perceive as a too aggressive approach to adjudication. Drawing on interviews with current constitutional judges from three Latin American countries, this Article identifies and analyzes three core facets of resistance and backlash in the inter-American human rights system. It then offers two avenues for reform to strengthen the system: first, the reformulation of legal doctrines used by the international human rights courts to mediate their relation with member states; and second, the adoption of new mechanisms to monitor compliance with decisions by international courts.
Jorge Contesse is Assistant Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School. He is a scholar of international human rights and comparative constitutional law, focusing on the judicialization of international law and on the interaction between domestic constitutional actors and international human rights regimes. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Harvard International Law Journal, the International Journal of Constitutional Law, Law & Contemporary Problems and the Yale Journal of International Law, among others. Professor Contesse is a graduate of Yale Law School (LL.M. and J.S.D.) and Diego Portales School of Law, in Santiago (LL.B.).