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The American Convention on Human Rights (the “American Convention”) was adopted in San Jose, Costa Rica on 22 November 1969, but did not enter into force until July 1978. It serves as one of two principal instruments within the OAS that outline states’ human rights obligations (see also the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man). The articles contained in the American Convention focus primarily on the civil and political rights of all individuals, however Article 26 commits states to a progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights. Importantly, the American Declaration also establishes the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and enhances the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

States Parties

  • Argentina
  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panamá
  • Paraguay
  • Perú
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

As signatories to this treaty, states accept obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the basic and fundamental human rights of all individuals, as outlined in the American Convention. Additionally, states parties to the American Convention also agree to be bound by the authority of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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It should be noted that states parties are allowed to submit reservations under Article 75 of the American Convention. This means that the state may ratify the American Convention but can opt out of certain provisions it contains. For example, Argentina has ratified the American Convention but withdrew from Article 21:

The Argentine Government establishes that questions relating to the Government’s economic policy shall not be subject to review by an international tribunal. Neither shall it consider reviewable anything the national courts may determine to be matters of ‘public utility’ and ‘social interest’, nor anything they may understand to be ‘fair compensation’.

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How does it help tackle violence against women?

Because violence against women is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and unequal enjoyment of human rights between men and women, most (if not all) of the American Declaration’s provisions could be relevant for tackling gender-based violence.

Some of the articles most relevant to tackling violence against women include:

  • Article 3: Right to Juridical Personality
  • Article 4: Right to Life
  • Article 5: Right to Humane Treatment
  • Article 6: Freedom from Slavery
  • Article 7: Right to Personal Liberty
  • Article 11: Right to Privacy
  • Article 17: Rights of the Family
  • Article 19: Rights of the Child
  • Article 22: Freedom of Movement and Residence
  • Article 24: Right to Equal Protection
  • Article 25: Right to Judicial Protection

In addition to the relevant articles contained in the American Convention, states parties also agree to be subject to the authority of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the “Court”) and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “Commission”). This means that states parties are not only accountable for the rights contained in the American Convention, but accountable to the Court and Commission for all OAS human rights treaties they have ratified. These can include:


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