International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International Judicial Academy, Washington, D.C., with assistance from the
American Society of International Law

Winter 2014 Issue

Justice In Profile


Diego García-Sayán
President, Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Diego García-SayánBy: Maria A. Chhabria, Director of Academic Programs, International Judicial Academy

Judge Diego García-Sayán currently serves as the President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica. He has been a member of the Inter-American Court since 2004. In 2010, the other members of the Court elected  Judge García-Sayán as President, and later reconfirmed him for two additional terms, under which he will serve until 2015.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is a judicial body established by the American Convention on Human Rights in order to interpret and enforce the provisions on human rights adopted in the convention. The Court has two main functions: adjudicatory and advisory. Under the adjuratory function, the court hears cases of human rights violations; and under the advisory function, it issues opinions on matters of legal interpretation referred to it by other bodies of the Organization of the American States (OAS) or member states. The Court consists of seven judges elected by the General Assembly of the OAS.

Prior to joining the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Judge García-Sayán served twice as Minister of Justice of the Government of Peru. In such capacity, he contributed to the harmonization of relations between Peru and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and favored the reform of the justice and security system in Peru. From July 2001 to July 2002, he was the Foreign Affairs Minister. At that time, Judge García-Sayán implemented the ratification by Peru of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the approval by the OAS of an Inter-American Democratic Charter. In addition, he worked for several international organizations, including the United Nations. In 2007, Judge García-Sayán served as the Chief of the Electoral Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Guatemala and as the Legal



Counselor of the Board of the Central Bank of Peru. He also worked with the United Nations as a member of the Redesign Panel on the United Nations System of Administration of Justice and as the chair of its Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. Judge García-Sayán served as member of the Executive Committee of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists. He is also the co-founder of the Peruvian Center for International Studies (CEPEI).

Judge García-Sayán has taught law at universities around the world and written books on legal issues and on international politics. He has received numerous awards from different countries, including Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru. On August 10, 2013, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative conferred the " 2013 Rule of Law Award" on the judge for his longstanding career dedicated to the protection of human rights and to the advancement of the rule of law in Latin America.

Judge García-Sayán was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 2 August 1950. He is the youngest son of Dr. Enrique García-Sayán, a former Foreign Affairs Minister of Perú. After the 1948 coup d´état, Dr. Enrique García-Sayán moved to New York and worked for the United Nations in Geveva and New York. Diego García-Sayán attended the Santa Maria School and the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima, obtaining a bachelor's degree in 1969. A year later, he studied at the University of Texas at Austin, and in 1975 earned his law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

Judge García-Sayán is currently a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, General Director of the Andean Commission of Jurists, and the 2012-2013 Weissberg Chair in International Studies at Beloit College. He also serves as a member of the executive of the Council of the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights and is the Chairperson of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

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© 2014 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
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