Tuesday, March 28, 2017
For the past week, scholars have spoken out in this blog and elsewhere about the US government's calculated failure to attend a hearing of the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights on March 21, 2017. As Professor Rick Wilson remembers here, it is not unprecedented for the government to fail to show up (though apparently, interns often attended to observe in the absence of official representatives). However, as Professors Sarah Paoletti and JoAnn Kamuf Ward note, the US government has regularly attended hearings through recent administrations. Professors Lauren Carasik and Margaret Drew observe that the government's participation showed a modicum of respect for the other nations that participate in the IACHR as well as the individual parties, such as the Standing Rock Sioux, seeking redress through the forum.
The government's refusal to attend the hearing was communicated just the day before, accompanied by a flimsy excuse. In her commentary, Professor Johanna Kalb ties this act to other recent activities and statements of US government officials that fail to respect the rule of law. Professor Deborah Weissman underscores the challenges that this government posture poses for legal educators trying to stave off students' cynicism.
Professor Tara Melish reminds us, though, that even when the US government participated in hearings as a formal matter, it rarely engaged with its human rights obligations here at home. Whether or not the US attends IACHR hearings (and for all of the reasons outlined above, it should), the task of bringing human rights home still looms large. Professors Paoletti and Kamuf Ward worry about the impact of US actions on the IACHR, already reeling from financial challenges; they appeal to Canada to step into the breach to offer leadership.
Though our "blog in" is over, this site will continue to serve as a forum for scholarly commentary on this issue. For reference, here is a catalog of our Scholarly Voices "Blog-In":
Deborah M. Weissman, A "No-Show" at the IACHR: A Portentous Absence
JoAnn Kamuf Ward, This is What Hypocrisy Looks Like
Lauren Carasik and Margaret Drew, At the IACHR, Trump Administration Declines to Listen to Dakota Access Pipeline Opponents, Again
Sarah Paoletti and JoAnn Kamuf Ward, Oh Canada, Oh Canada -- We Need You!