Ruling Through Advice: The Use of Advisory Jurisdiction in International Human Rights Law

Under the understanding that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights exerts a jurisdiction that articulates a common law of fundamental rights, the Court has recently turned to the use of its advisory jurisdiction to expand its reach. Through advisory opinions, the Court aims at binding not only those states that have ratified the regional covenant, but also those who have not ratified it, but are members of the regional political organization of states (the OAS), that is, countries such as Canada and the United States.
My paper explores how a regional human rights court’s use of its expansive advisory jurisdiction takes place in the context of the two universalist narratives at stake: one that claims the existence of a common, universal, law; and the other one that pushes for a universal ratification of legally binding treaties.