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UD Law Professor Considered For Key Inter-American Human Rights Institution

Carlos Bernal has ruled on human rights cases, in his previous capacity as Justice of the Colombian Constitutional Court. He has also written and taught about human rights as a professor. He now hopes to have the opportunity to contribute to strengthening human rights for people across the Americas.

Bernal, who teaches at the University of Dayton School of Law, was nominated by Colombia to serve on the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. The Commission is part of the Organization of American States (OAS), made up of 34 North, South and Central American and Caribbean countries. Bernal is one of five candidates up for election to three positions on the Commission. The vote among OAS members will take place on November 12.

“For every human rights scholar, that’s a dream,” Bernal says of the potential to serve on the commission. “One of the reasons I became a lawyer is because I care about injustice. There are many vulnerable people across the Americas and justice and human rights protection should be brought to them.”

The commission’s role includes monitoring the state of human rights in the Americas and advising countries on policies to protect those rights. People can also petition the commission if they feel their human rights have been violated. The Commission can make recommendations on how to remedy those violations. If the state parties do not comply with the recommendations, the Commission has the power to take the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and request a ruling.

Bernal thinks his roles as a justice and professor make him qualified for a spot on the Commission.

“I think with my background, I can contribute to the strengthening of the system,” Bernal says. “For me it would be a huge privilege to use my capacities to improve human rights in the hemisphere.”

Bernal would like to see the commission do more on issues like climate change and migration that have an impact on human rights but that no one country can solve alone.

“There is no way to create efficient solutions to these problems without a regional strategy,” Bernal says. “The commission should be a leader in strengthening human rights and raising the standards.”

Bernal will continue to teach at UD Law even if he is elected to the commission. In fact, he will teach an international human rights class during the Spring 2022 semester.

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