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Disputation: Natalia Torres Zuniga

Master of Laws Natalia Torres Zuniga at Norwegian Centre for Human Rights will be defending the thesis Ideology critique and the Legitimacy of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Challenging the Constitutional Analogy, Subsidiarity and Democratic Transformation for the degree of Ph.D.

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Natalia Torres Zuniga

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Trial lecture - time and place

Oct. 7, 2019 10:15 AM–11:00 AM, Gamle festsal, 1. etg. Urbygningen    

Adjudication committee

  • Professor Vibeke Blaker Strand, University of Oslo (Chair)
  • Professor Florian F. Hoffmann, University of Rio de Janeiro (1. opponent)
  • Professor Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, University of London (2. opponent)

Chair of defence

Vice dean Erling Hjelmeng


  • Professor Malcolm Langford
  • Docent Johan Karlsson Schaffer


This thesis offers a critical analysis of two legal discourses on the legitimacy of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. These discourses are adopted by two different strands of the Latin American legal scholarship—the constitutionalist and the state-centric—and are usually presented as opposing positions.

I dispute the idea that the two discourses are truly in conflict by showing that they both profile the Court as a supranational tribunal whose last say on human rights protection has a transformative effect on Latin America’s democracies.

I proceed to demonstrate how portraying the Court as a supra-constitutional actor is a strategy through which legal experts self-validate by making themselves the principal agents of transformation and downgrading laypeople to passive subjects in need of institutional aid.

Further, I show how profiling the Court as an agent of democratic transformation diverts attention from the ways in which it has pursued a particular view of democracy and human rights in the region.

This thesis proposes decentering the focus away from formal legal institutions to engage with the idea that ordinary people can play a leading role in their own emancipation.


Published Sep. 12, 2019 2:45 PM - Last modified Sep. 19, 2019 1:54 PM