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International Journal of Constitutional Law





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The three well-established regional human rights systems (in Europe, the Americas, and Africa) aim to provide access to individuals to a decision and remedy based on the violation of human rights in the founding treaties. In this article, the notion of the "dispute pyramid," developed in sociolegal studies, generally, is adjusted to describe and help us better understand regional access. Access differs considerably across the three systems, and its major stumbling blocks present themselves at different stages. In the European system, most cases are dismissed at the admissibility phase. In the Inter-American system, most cases are weeded out at the pre-admissibility phase, by the Commission's Secretariat. In the African system, the greatest constraint to regional access lies in the small number of cases decided domestically. The general trend toward judicialization, observed in all three systems, does not necessarily imply greater access. In order to overcome the impediments to access at the domestic level, quasi-judicial bodies-cultivating rights awareness and understanding still have a role to play.



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