When the State violates the fundamental rights of individuals, supranational mechanisms – regional as well as United Nations ones – are often the only avenue for victims. Contrary to the latter, regional systems can take into account regional particularisms, be there cultural, political or legal. The main regional mechanisms are the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on and Court of Human Rights and the African Commission and Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Most regional mechanisms deliver binding judgments, which States have the obligation to uphold. United Nations mechanisms, on the other hand, have no means to compel States to comply with its international obligation. Traditionally, regional mechanisms are competent under two conditions – though there are exceptions: their competence must have formally been recognized by the State, and domestic remedies must have been exhausted.
TRIAL International files complaints before regional mechanisms on behalf of victims, litigating the case in full or in partnership with local lawyers. In the countries where it operates, it also trains local lawyers and human rights defenders to file cases before regional mechanisms.