Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


Victims of systemic rights abuses, their families, and non-governmental organizations are turning to international and regional human rights tribunals to address the failure of states to investigate, prosecute, and remedy past human rights violations. In many cases this relates to acts that occurred decades ago and for which a previous repressive regime was responsible. In other cases there may be powerful interests within the state, such as the police or security service, that are complicit with the violations in question. This Article explores the historical and political contexts in which these cases have arisen, how the courts approach the question of state responsibility under the relevant human rights treaties (the American Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and the implications for transitional justice, as they raise common issues of what makes for accountability following state wrongs.