Defusing tensions in the inter-American system: beyond formal institutional structures

The analysis of backlash against international human rights tribunals has often centered on two actors: the tribunal in question and ‘the state’ – most often understood as a monolithic entity. This approach is problematic to the extent that it ignores the multiplicity of actors that participate in constructing (and challenging) a court’s authority: the ecosystem in which the international tribunal is embedded. To better understand the manner in which criticism against the IACtHR is managed and processed, I shall first offer a map of the inter-American ecosystem, broadly outlining the different roles that its actors have played. Specific instances of state backlash will then be analyzed taking this ecosystem into account. Ultimately, although courts may adopt specific judicial strategies to deflect criticism, their resilience in the face of pressure owes much to the strength of the ecosystem that has grown around them