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DeclarationThe American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (the “American Declaration”; also known as the “Bogota Declaration”) was adopted on May 2, 1948, making it the world’s first general international human rights instrument, preceding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since its adoption, the American Declaration has influenced the development of the Inter-American system for the protection and promotion of human rights. It serves as one of two principal instruments within the OAS that outline states’ human rights obligations (see also the American Convention on Human Rights).

The American Declaration asserts that its human rights provisions are not dependent on nationality, but are universally guaranteed to everyone by virtue of being human. While this instrument is a declaration, it has provided the normative framework for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in the OAS. It has also been accepted as a legally binding agreement by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In particular, it has been used as an authority for member states who have not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights – such as the United States of America and Canada.

iconLockWant more? Read the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ advisory opinion on the ‘Interpretation of the Declaration of the Rights and Duties of man within the Framework of Article 64 of the American Convention on Human Rights for information on the legal application of the American Declaration

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 are relevant for tackling gender-based violence.

Some of the articles in the American Declaration most relevant for tackling violence against women are:

  • Article 1: Right to life, liberty and security of person
  • Article 2: Right to equal protection under the law without discrimination
  • Article 5: Right to protection of honour, personal reputation, and private and family life
  • Article 6: Right to a family and to protection thereof
  • Article 7: Right to protection for mothers and children
  • Article 11: Right to the Preservation of health and to wellbeing
  • Article 12: Right to education
  • Article 13: Right to the benefits of culture
  • Article 14: Right to work and fair remuneration
  • Article 17: Right to recognition of juridical personality and civil rights
  • Article 18: right to judicial protection


CourtCaseCase Study: Jessica Lenahan Gonzales and Others v. United States of America (2011)

Jessica Lenahan Gonzales and Others v. United States of America (2011) was the first domestic violence case to be brought against the United States of America (USA) before an international body. In this case, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights treated the American Declaration as a binding human rights instrument and referred to their status within the OAS Charter to rule that Jessica’s case was admissible. Specifically, in its admissibility decision (para. 37) and in the final decision on the merits of the case, the Commission asserted:

[115] …according to the well-established and long-standing jurisprudence and practice of the inter-American human rights system, the American Declaration is recognized as constituting a source of legal obligation for OAS member states, including those States that are not parties to the American Convention on Human Rights. These obligations are considered to flow from the human rights obligations of Member States under the OAS Charter. Member States have agreed that the content of the general principles of the OAS Charter is contained in and defined by the American Declaration, as well as the customary legal status of the rights protected under many of the Declaration’s core provisions.

The Commission’s decision interpreted the American Declaration through a gendered lens – highlighting the obligation of all states (regardless of the ratification of the American Convention on Human Rights) to tackle acts of violence against women under articles 1, 2, 7 and 18 of the American Declaration.

iconLockWant more? Find out what specific actions the Commission recommended to the USA on our ‘Cases’ page


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