Access to Rights for Vulnerable Groups – LGBTI, Children, Afro-descendants, Indigenous people, Women and Persons with Disabilities in the Inter-American Human Rights System


  • Rose-Marie Belle Antoine The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine


The paper examines the authoritative body of international human rights jurisprudence and norms which have been developed as a result of the work of two OAS bodies: the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court, (the Court) which collectively are known as the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS). It pays special attention to the IAHRS’s influential work on vulnerable groups in the hemisphere: indigenous peoples, children, afro-descendants, women, persons with disabilities and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) community, thereby contributing to the expansion of these rights to their fullest capacity. The IAHRS has helped the most vulnerable and marginalized to have a voice and to access rights, when their own states had failed them. Concrete, positive regime change through successful human rights advocacy and adjudication, for example, toppling dictatorships in the region, has also been attributed to the IACHR. While the IACHR and the Court are regional entities, they are acknowledged as framing important jurisprudential principles for adoption in the international sphere, thereby punching above their weight. It is suggested that the collective mission of the IAHRS to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere, in terms of scope, extensive reach and dynamism, has been surpassed. The paper concludes that in its over 70 years of existence, the IAHRS has made a significant contribution in ensuring that more persons have had access to rights in the Americas.

Author Biography

  • Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
    Dean of the Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, Trinidad