30 October 1999
I gratefully acknowledge receipt of your letter of last October 1st concerning the decision of the Inter-American Court of last September 24th to continue to hear two cases pending before it, despite the intention of the respondent State in these cases to “withdraw” its recognition of the Court’s jurisdiction with “immediate effect”.
May I thank you very much for your constant interest in the work of our Court and for your expression of concern and solidarity. You are well aware that, from this part of the world, we likewise follow the work of your Court with the same attention, and attach great importance to it.
I can in fact perceive a clear convergence of outlook of our Courts in San José and Strasbourg, reflected in the case-law of both Tribunals, and particularly evidenced when it comes to tackling fundamental issues of interpretation and application of the two regional Conventions on Human Rights. One of such issues is precisely that of the access to justice at international level, achieved under the two Conventions by means of the operation of the respective provisions on the international jurisdiction of our Courts and on the right of individual petition.
I regard those provisions of such a fundamental character – as true cláusulas pétreas of the international protection of human rights – that any attemp to undermine them would threaten the functioning of the whole mechanism of protection under the two Conventions. While thus sharing entirely your apprehension, I am sure at the same time that you appreciate that the decision taken by our Court purported ultimately to safeguard the integrity of the mechanism of protection under the American Convention as a whole.
This decision grows in importance for having come at a time, as timely recalled in your letter, when the creation of a new international human rights tribunal is envisaged by means of a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Mr Luzius Wildhaber
President of the European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
In fact, despite all advances achieved in the present domain of protection in the last half-century, from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights to date, the present episode evidences that there is still a long way to go. There is pressing need for the adoption of national measures of implementation of human rights treaties, and compliance with decisions of international supervisory organs, along with a clearer understanding of the wide extent of the conventional obligations of protection undertaken by States Parties.
On my part, I also hope that a permanent solution may prove possible to the problem, above referred to, arisen with respect to the Inter-American Court’s jurisdiction.
I believe that the practice we initiated a couple of years ago of holding periodic joint meetings between members of our two Courts, as well as meetings with members of the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights, is most positive and one which should by all means be maintained. It has helped us to understand better the problems we face in our daily work (since the three regional systems of protection operate in the framework of the universality of human rights), and it has deepened our feeling of solidarity which, after all, lies at the very basis of our work in the field of human rights protection. This latter is indeed an irreversible and definitive conquest of civilization, and it is our common duty to ensure that no steps back are allowed.
May I once again, Mr. President, thank you very much for your much-appreciated works of attention and care as our sister Court in Strasbourg.
I have sent a copy of this letter to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States.
Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade
cc: His Excellency
César Gaviria Trujillo
Secretary General of the
Organization of American States