Reclaiming the Keys to the Kingdom: Evangelicals, Legal Activisms, and Human Rights in Latin America

Christian Evangelicals are a growing political and social force in Latin America. Most recently, conservative Evangelical movements used strategic litigation and lobbying before international human rights institutions to undermine basic LGBTI achievements, such as same-sex marriage, and other demands for equal rights. Several commentators thus speak of an imminent showdown between human rights protections and Christian Evangelism in the region, which would mirror similar conflicts elsewhere in the world. This paper questions this narrative, by exploring the origins and evolution of Evangelicals in Latin America, and their approach to key human rights issue of their time in three different moments and places: Chile in the 1970’s, Colombia in the 1990’s, and Costa Rica in the 2000’s.

When Illiberals Embrace Human Rights

While some contemporary populist leaders of Europe have been quick to shun human rights institutions, other populist governments in Europe and Latin America openly embrace the concept of human rights; some even accept the practice of courts reviewing domestic legislation under human rights treaties. The illiberal uses of human rights law point us both to the symbolic power human rights has in Europe and Latin America, as well as to the limits of human rights doctrine as an instrument for the construction of a particular liberal political order. The study will use empirical case studies of legal battles in Europe and Latin America to explore whether or not human rights can remain coherent and legally effective when unmoored from liberal political thought and practice.

Women’s Rights in the Inter-American Human Rights System

Having followed for many years the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights, I will attempt to present the substantial development of the protection of women’s human rights in the Inter-American system and particularly in the Court since the Convention entered into force and the impact it has had at the domestic level of States parties to the Convention.

The role of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

My presentation will analyze how the evolution of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as the fundamental human rights tribunal in the Americas. The Court has handed down key decisions, pushing for change at the domestic level and creating a community of rights and constitutionalism across Latin America. The Court must face different types of challenges and the American Convention’s anniversary is an excellent moment to take stock of the Court’s influence on human rights law and the challenges that lie ahead.

The role of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

My presentation examines the role of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission has become a key actor in the promotion and protection of human rights in the Americas. It has effectively held states accountable and has had to endure significant obstacles. As the American Convention turns 50 it is critical to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for the Commission, its relationship with states, the Court and civil society.