Dr González Ocantos on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Many norms develop in the absence of clear templates for how to implement them. I argue that, even under these conditions, individuals and organizations can still successfully push for new norms, along with attendant changes in state practices. They do so through a mode of action that I term communicative entrepreneurship. Unlike norm entrepreneurs, communicative entrepreneurs do not project normative or technocratic certainty. They use nudges and networking strategies to trigger debates that define the contours of emerging normative scripts. I illustrate this dynamic with the case of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which became interested in regulating the use of its jurisprudence by local judges. Lacking a script amenable for diffusion, it triggered a dialogue with national courts to jointly regulate citation practices, and more generally, judges’ obligations with respect to international human rights jurisprudence. Using original interviews and other sources, I trace the impact of communicative entrepreneurship on the behavior of Mexican and Colombian high courts. I show that it led to the development of new judicial decision-making standards in two very different contexts and therefore bolstered the authority of the Inter-American Court.