Turning to Regional Courts

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Authored by: Rebecca Reid

Routledge Handbook of Judicial Behavior

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913356
eBook ISBN: 9781315691527
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite public law scholars’ increasing attention to courts beyond the United States, regional courts remain largely ignored. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), for example, is the prominent human rights court resolving conflicts in the Americas; yet, only a handful of scholars have turned their attention to this court (Pasqualucci 2013; Huneeus 2010; Hawkins and Jacoby 2010; Posner and Yoo 2005). The primary reason scholars ignore these courts is due to the assumption that these courts exert little meaningful influence since states can easily ignore court decisions due to the lack of formal enforcement mechanisms. This chapter reevaluates this assumption—and past empirical analyses—by systematically examining the effectiveness of the IACHR as measured by state compliance to its decisions. Using original data consisting of the universe of IACHR compliance records for Latin American, Spanish-speaking, civil law states from 2001 to 2015, this chapter shows that the IACHR does, in fact, exert significant legal influence on state behavior and domestic legal systems in a way that reinforces the rule of law and international human rights protections.

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