The Systemic Approach to Human Rights

In contrast to the more traditional, liberal approach to human rights, epitomized by the work of the European Human Rights System, a more systemic approach has evolved within the Inter-American and African regional systems. This paper highlights the manner in which that approach has evolved through those systems’ encounters with massive violations, transitional moments, and group-based violations; through their deployment of different institutional mechanisms; and through their adoption of a more assertive approach to remedies. The paper then explores the broad contours of this alternative approach, and the impacts it has on general understandings of the nature of human rights law. The paper concludes by exploring the value offered by adoption of a more systemic approach to rights work.