In the early 1990s, the Inter-American System for the promotion and protection of human rights emerged as an important forum for rights protection in the Americas. Jurisprudence was constantly evolving as a result of the new resolutions issued by the System’s organs. The emergence of this new normative system represented a major challenge for organizations and human rights defenders who worked in the region and lacked the necessary knowledge and technical capacity to make the most of the System’s potential.
In response to this situation, in 1991 a group of prominent human rights defenders from across the Americas met in Caracas, Venezuela with the intention of creating a regional organization that would pursue the right to justice, liberty and a dignified existence for the inhabitants of all the countries of the hemisphere; and focus its efforts on the use of international human rights law and the organs of the Inter-American System. Out of this meeting, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) was born.
In its early years, CEJIL focused primarily on protecting civil and political rights, with most of its cases based on the right to life, physical integrity, due process or freedom of expression. Later, in response to emerging needs, CEJIL expanded its range of issues, dedicating increased attention to economic, social and cultural rights and to the collective rights of vulnerable groups (including indigenous peoples, women, children, and human rights defenders).
CEJIL has made the most of democratic transitions, the end of the civil wars in Central America, and the opportunities that arose in various countries to negotiate friendly settlements in a number of cases that made a significant contribution to the respect for human rights. Likewise, CEJIL has taken on the task of monitoring the implementation of the decisions of the Inter-American Commission and Court, in order to ensure that victims are properly compensated, that justice is done and that the structural changes promised are implemented.