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Public International Law Research

A guide that highlights resources and recommended strategies for conducting research on international law topics.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

General Overview

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the "I/A Court") entered into force in 1978 as one of two organizations created by the American Convention on Human Rights. Currently, 25 members of the Organization of American States have ratified the American Convention on Human Rights (the "Convention") and recognized the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is currently headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Statute of the I/A Court outlines the court's structure, organization, workings, and relationships with governments and organizations. The following is a brief summary of the court's jurisdiction, as outlined in the Convention:

Adjudicatory Jurisdiction Under Articles 62 and 63 of the Convention, the I/A Court has jurisdiction over all cases concerning the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Convention, provided that States Parties to the case have recognized such jurisdiction.
Advisory Jurisdiction Under Article 64 of the Convention, the I/A Court may also advise member states regarding the interpretation of the Convention and any other relevant treaties concerning the protection of human rights in the American states. The Court may also, at the request of a member state, provide that state with an opinion regarding the compatibility of any domestic laws with the Convention.

Note: While the United States signed the Convention in 1977, it never ratified the agreement and is not currently subject to the jurisdiction of the court. Venezuela originally ratified the Convention in 1977, but it repudiated its ratification in 2012. You can see a full listing of all OAS member states and their respective ratification dates of the Convention on this interactive map.

Background & Composition of the I/A Court

If you would like to learn more about the history of the I/A Court, how parties move through the process of filing a petition, or the current composition of the I/A Court, the following pages will be of interest:

Online IACHR Primary Materials

Online I/A Court Primary Materials

Instruments of the OAS and I/A Court

The following collection provides online access to the foundational documents of the Organization of American States and its subsidiary organs, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This collection also provides access to other related conventions, including those dedicated to the protection of the rights of women, children, and indigenous peoples.

Rules & Procedures of the I/A Court

The following collection contains the main legal tools that govern the rules and procedures of the I/A Court. These materials include the rules of court, practice directions, and the underlying foundation documents for the court:

If you are interested in viewing the I/A Statute, which outlines the general organization of the court, please visit this link.

Cases & Related Materials

Past jurisprudence from the I/A Court can be located in a variety ways on the main I/A Court website. The Jurisprudence Finder page allows you to search by keyword, type of case, country involved, and date. There are also options to view a chronological list of cases by type of case: 

The I/A Court also provides access to some of the underlying briefs for specific cases, which can be viewed at this link. Finally, if you are comfortable reading materials in Spanish, you can also access the I/A Court Digest, which provides summaries of cases and serves as another means for searching through I/A Court jurisprudence.

Secondary Sources