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Just as in torts or tax law, the inclusion of human rights as an academic research specialty would give the field added legitimacy. [...] current law school approaches largely emphasize actions before international tribunals, which in fact are few and far between.\n During the week-long competition, WCL also organizes roundtable discussions on human rights topics and a site visit to the Commission in Washington, DC.

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                        The success of the Inter-American system
             would not have been possible without
                           advances in the preparation
                     and training of law students. Even still,
                       human rights must be better integrated
             into the culture and curricula of law schools.

                                                             ver the past 50 years, the Inter-American human rights

                                                             system has become instrumental to the evolution of
                                                             democracy in the region. Gradually expanding the scope
                                                             of its mandate to include everything from political
                                                             rights to gender rights and rights of vulnerable groups,
                                                             the system has not only helped shape domestic policies
                                                             but has also served as a key tool for legitimizing respect
                                                             for human rights in the Americas.
                                                                 Its increasing relevance is reflected in the ever-grow-
                                                 ing interest in human rights on the part of law students and the
                                                 expansion of programs—which in turn have helped the evolution
                                                 of the system. While these curricular and academic advancements
                                                 have been crucial, they are insufficient. Ensuring the systematic
                                                 protection of human rights requires its institutionalization into
                                                 every aspect of law school curricula. This is also important because
                                                 of the continuing need to improve democratic institutions and
                                                 avoid a return to authoritarian regimes. For a region undergoing
                                                 important changes, the human rights narrative contributes to pro-
                                                 viding a democratic direction to those changes.


                             PREPARING HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES:
                             FROM BELOW
                              ILLUSTRATION BY LUBA LUKOVA                                SUMMER 2009   Americas Quarterly   65

AQ0309_GROSS_LAY08.indd 65                                                                                                       6/23/09 8:21:00 AM
                 Never before has a complete understanding of            impunity, vulnerable groups, and conditions of deten-
             the complex and evolving field of human rights been          tion. At the same time, the Court has developed the
             so important. Currently, the Inter-American system          procedural aspects of human rights law (e.g., the
             receives more than 1,200 petitions per year. This is        burden of proof and rights of petitioners before the
             a dramatic inc
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