Disability and the “art” of interpretation: Treaty interpretation methods followed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Gonzales Lluy et al. v. Ecuador case
Abstract: This study is focused on the relationship between treaty interpretation methods and the protection granted to the plaintiffs by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in its judgment of Gonzales Lluy et al. v. Ecuador. Based on a case law analysis of the Courts jurisprudence, this study explores judicial interpretation and the possible consequences of this landmark judgment in the protection of disability rights. Structurally, the study includes a theoretical approach to the concept of judicial discretion and pre-established rules of treaty interpretation in Chapter One. Chapter Two, explains the Inter-American System for the protection of human rights and its corpus iuris, predominantly in the form of legal instruments concerning disability rights. The third Chapter analyses the general methods of treaty interpretation followed by the Court its case law. Chapter Four presents the Gonzales Lluy case; its factual circumstances and proceedings before the Court. The analysis of the case is the core content of Chapter 5, which answers two questions: What procedural standards did the Court apply?; and, What interpretation standards did the Court apply? Finally, Chapter 6 sets out the main conclusions of this study. Findings suggest that in the Gonzales Lluy et al. v. Ecuador case, the Court applied objective procedural-standards to limit the sphere of its judicial freedom with critical results, such as the expansion of the alleged human rights violations against Talía Gonzalez Lluy (main plaintiff), and the incorporation of Talía´s mother and brother into the realm of protection by law. Moreover, the study found that since the American Convention does not contain explicit references to the human rights of persons with disabilities, the concept of discrimination or the Court´s competence to rule on the violation of the right to education, the Court reached its conclusions by interpreting the American Convention in light of the regional and universal corpus iuris. In so doing, the Court reinforced the concept of legal interpretation as an “art” since it exercised its “creation” power using different means of interpretation in a particular mixed operation.
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