A topic motivating much research since 2016 is the turn away from international law caused by a surge in non-liberal and nationalist governments across the world. In the realm of human rights law, scholars have noted how states are now more apt to repudiate, resist, or simply ignore their human rights obligations. This essay makes a different cut into this topic. It considers not how non-liberal actors reject human rights law, but rather what happens when they embrace it. International human rights law in Latin America—often understood as a means of promoting a cosmopolitan, liberal political order—is also being harnessed toward other types of political projects. This raises the question of how necessary the link is between human rights and political liberalism: is non-liberal engagement an existential threat, or can human rights law have a thinner commitment to liberal principles than does, for example, national constitutional law? As the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) turns fifty, this essay argues that the human rights law of the Americas is open-ended enough that it can incorporate, and has at times incorporated, non-liberal concerns and norms without losing coherence or legitimacy. Further, this may be an apt survival strategy, albeit not the only one, for the region's human rights institutions in our time.
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