Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 25, Nos. 1-2 (1995-1996), pp. 407-426


The principal purpose of the Colloquium, as can be seen from the great attention given to the papers presented by the second panel, was to discuss the uses of customary international human rights law in the defense of human rights before national courts. More generally, these discussions focused on the effectiveness of customary international human rights rules in influencing legislative and policy-making, administrative decisions and, particularly, judicial adjudication, at international and national levels. The initial and wider question of the feasibility of using custom as a source of human rights rules formed the underlying aspects of the debates in the Colloquium on the question of the sources for the international law of human rights. This included the issue of the relative importance of the actual practice of states and of opinio juris in the creation of a rule of customary international law. The Colloquium's organizers wished to be complete in their coverage of custom as a source of human rights law and decided on a brief inquiry into the sources of regional human rights rules. This paper undertakes to give some information, accompanied by certain reflections, on the sources of law in regional human rights systems, recognizing the obvious fact that the regional enforcement of human rights in Europe and the Americas is based on adjudicatory institutions which administer treaty-based rights. A more modest start has been accomplished in Africa, with the creation of a fact finding commission alongside the regional treaty.