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Sean O’Brien

The Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights and the Protection of Labor Rights in the Americas

6 février 2004

I. Introduction

The Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights embodies two important characteristics that render it particularly capable of protecting labor rights in the Americas. First, the System’s normative framework – or the series of treaties that form the legal basis for the System – explicitly protects the rights of workers as rights (not merely as standards or aspirations subject to Ministerial Consultations). Second, the System’s quasi-judicial and judicial organs – the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights – have begun to actively apply the rights contained in these treaties in a way that vindicates the labor rights of individual workers. Cases resolved by the Commission and the Court end with legal orders declaring States to be in violation of their obligations with respect to workers, as well as legally binding orders to reinstate workers with back-pay who have been wrongly fired – results that are not obtainable through NAFTA’s labor side agreement or even through the International Labour Organization (ILO).

My presentation will focus on these two strengths of the System – its normative framework that protects workers rights, as well as a complaint mechanism that produces legally binding orders on behalf of individual workers. I will briefly highlight the rights that are protected in the Inter-American System, and will focus on the System’s growing role in defending the rights of workers, by means of the right to freedom of association, the right to due process, and the right to an effective remedy.

(Suite dans le document joint)