The ‘Gänseliesel’ (Goose Girlis), a historical fountain erected in 1901, represents the most well-known landmark of the city of Goettingen.


Thomas Buergenthal and the Americas: A Comprehensive Contribution to Human Rights Protection

Kai Ambos



While Thomas Buergenthal’s contribution to the field of human rights is certainly of global importance, it had a particular impact in the Americas, especially during the crucial initial phase of the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS) with the Court as its core institution on which Buergenthal served as one of the first group of judges from 1979 to 1991. In a nutshell, Buergenthal’s contribution may be characterized as a comprehensive and decisive effort to the regional protection of human rights in a threefold way: prudent proactivity (A.), active promotion and optimization (B.), interaction and critical follow-up (C.). At the same time, Buergenthal pursued a strategic-progressive approach which offers valuable lessons for the protection of human rights going well beyond the Americas. Buergenthal’s contribution to human rights and to international law in general cannot be overestimated. His principled and at the same time prudent strategic approach will be greatly missed, especially in our challenging times where international law is under attack at various fronts.



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