International Tribunals and Domestic Trials in Peace Negotiations

In this virtual workshop, Genevieve Bates presented her recent work on international tribunals and domestic trials in peace negotiations.

Paper Abstract

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is one of the world’s most active human rights tribunals.  It has effectively set itself as the most authoritative voice in fundamental rights adjudication in Latin America.  Through an impressive case law on a number of human rights matters, from anti-impunity to social rights to same-sex marriage, the Court exerts significant influence upon many Latin American states.  This is a feature that both scholars and advocates have studied and praised with devoted energy.  One of the most recent articulations of such interaction is the notion of “judicial dialogue” and the development of an jus constitutionale commune: a kind of Latin American common law of rights and constitutionalism that seeks to transform existing structures of social and legal inequality. Usually, when we think of how courts use comparative law the analysis takes place among same type of courts: for example, when apex courts borrow the doctrines from apex courts from different jurisdictions.  This paper adopts a different take.  It explores some of the ways in which an international court—specifically, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights—engages with domestic law—that is, the law of states under the Court’s jurisdiction.  By looking at the Court’s influential jurisprudence on anti-impunity, the paper identifies first how the Court has come to be seen by many as a regional super-constitutional court. This process subsequently paved the way for the Court’s articulation of the doctrine of conventionality control, whereby all domestic courts are bound by the Court’s interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights—Latin America’s major human rights treaty.  I identify this process as fundamental to explaining why (and how) the Inter-American Court uses domestic law.  By discussing how the Court develops its case law and articulates its doctrines in these areas, the paper explores a method of interpretation that has received little scholarly attention.  This method should be examined as it can help the Court gain legitimacy, particularly in face of states’ recent pushback efforts, and counter the Court’s activist stance, as exemplified, for instance, in the Court’s use of conventionality control.


  • Genevieve Bates is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. She presented her paper “Threats and Commitments: International Tribunals and Domestic Trials in Peace Negotiations.”
  • Oumar Ba is Assistant Professor of International Relations, Cornell University
  • MP Broache is Assistant Professor of Political Science, UNC Greeensboro