“I am truly honored to receive this award, which is very generous but also recognizes the thousands of Latin Americans who have fought for democracy and human rights. Today, electoral democracy is an accomplished fact in this region, and we continue to make important steps in the field of human rights,” García-Sayán said. “Having a strong and well-respected Inter-American Court as we do today constitutes a fundamental warranty for more than 500 million Latin Americans.”
The Rule of Law Award, established in 1994 by the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, honors individuals and organizations that have taken significant steps in advancing legal reforms, fostering free-market economies or protecting human rights.
“This year’s award recognizes both Justice García-Sayán’s professional accomplishments and the great strides that the Latin American region has made in recent years,” said Stephen N. Zack, former ABA president and ABA ROLI Board of Directors chair. “Throughout his career, the justice has remained committed to his vision of societies characterized by a robust rule of law. He not only has sketched the pathway to that ideal, but also has been a deft architect by working throughout the Americas to advance human rights.”
As both a former minister of justice and a former minister of foreign affairs in Peru, García-Sayán helped solidify that country’s commitment to democracy and human rights. He was sponsor of the Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted by the countries of the Americas in 2002. He has played a crucial role in the strengthening of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights during his presidency. His work there and his leadership of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances underscore his lifelong commitment to human rights.
He is also an executive on the Council of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights and has served as member of the Executive Committee of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists.
“Latin America is experiencing a true juridical revolution. Major progress has been made, for instance, in strengthening the jurisprudential dialogue between the Inter-American Court and national tribunals,” García-Sayán said. “The court was created by the states in order to protect human rights, and these states continue to basically comply with its decisions — even more importantly, the court’s decisions are increasingly being incorporated by the national courts as ‘leading causes,’ in order to use them as inspiration and guidance for future cases.”
Recipients of the Rule of Law Award include individuals and groups from around the world that have demonstrated an uncommon vision, courage and perseverance in promoting the rule of law. Recent award recipients include Navanethem Pillay, United Nations high commissioner for human rights; Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s first female president; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; and former Philippines Chief Justice Hilario Davide.
ABA ROLI promotes the rule of law by working with in-country partners in more than 60 countries across five regions to build sustainable institutions and societies that deliver justice, foster economic opportunity and ensure respect for human dignity. You can learn more about ABA ROLI’s work atwww.abarol.org.