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Abstract

In this Essay, Professor Dinah Shelton draws on her personal experience as a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to discuss the underlying causes of a "crisis of commitment" to the Inter-American system of human rights. Shelton traces the roots of this crisis in large part to the Inter-American petition procedures. Giving an in-depth account of the structure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the details of the petition procedures, Shelton explores the issues of legitimacy, transparency, effectiveness, and efficiency raised by various aspects of the petitioning process, and discusses the various ways in which these issues in the petition process contribute to the broader crisis of the system's authority. She ultimately concludes with a series of proposed reforms—ranging from radical to relatively simple—for improving the structure and procedures of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with a view toward restoring the credibility of human rights protections in the Americas.

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