Advisory Opinion to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Firearms Industry and Human Rights Obligations

06 Sep 2023

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) have submitted legal comments to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACt-HR) in response to Mexico's request for an Advisory Opinion concerning the role of private firearms companies and their impact on human rights.

Within their submission, the ICJ and DPLF elucidate core principles of international law and jurisprudence, drawing from the extensive knowledge developed by Inter-American human rights bodies and United Nations treaty bodies. In addressing Mexico's inquiries, the submitted opinion underscores several critical aspects:

  • Corporate Responsibility: It emphasizes the need for all business enterprises to respect internationally recognized human rights and calls for comprehensive human rights due diligence measures in their operations and partnerships.
  • State Regulation: It advocates for robust state regulation of firearm manufacturers, distributors, and sellers to protect the fundamental right to life and physical integrity, whether within or outside their territorial boundaries.
  • Global Protection: It underscores the importance of states taking effective measures to safeguard human rights beyond their borders, acknowledging the interconnected nature of global rights.
  • Corporate Oversight: Emphasis is placed on states' obligation to regulate the activities and relationships of companies within their jurisdiction, particularly when these entities play a significant role in the illicit firearms trade, impacting human rights across state borders and throughout the Americas.
  • Accountability for All: It highlights the obligation of states to investigate and prosecute human rights violations, including those committed by private entities, ensuring accountability and justice for all parties involved.
  • Access to Justice: The submission stresses the significance of providing victims with unhindered access to justice, effective remedies, and reparations, particularly in scenarios where firearm companies have contributed to human rights violations in foreign territories.
  • Removing Legal Barriers: It calls for the elimination of legislation that obstructs the investigation of human rights violations, as such laws are deemed to be in direct contravention of international obligations and are seen as impediments to safeguarding rights and ensuring access to justice.

The Inter-American Court is expected to issue its advisory opinion on this matter in 2024.

Download ICJ and DPLF’s written opinion here.