Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



In this Article, the Author undertakes a comprehensive study of interim measures ordered in human rights cases before six international enforcement bodies--the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the United Nations Committee against Torture, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. An order of interim measures may require that the State take positive action, such as providing protection for human rights activists or journalists, or it may call upon the State to refrain from taking action, such as not extraditing a person or delaying the execution of prisoners until their cases have been resolved before the international body. The purpose of interim measures in international human rights law is most often to protect persons involved in a case from urgent danger grave and irreparable injury. The Author concludes that the multiple jurisdictions charged with the enforcement of international norms are successfully harmonizing and evolving their treatment of interim measures. In general, States have accepted the decisions of international courts that interim measures are binding on the States that are parties to the applicable treaties. Many States have not yet accepted the view that interim measures specified by international quasi-judicial bodies also are binding on States. The Author argues inter alia that States that have accepted the right of individuals to petition international human rights bodies are bound to respect that petition process by refraining from interfering with the process and by protecting the lives and rights of those involved in the case. Thus, interim measures are implied in the constituent documents that provide for the right of individual petition and must be considered to be binding on States that are parties.