Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Since 1945, two developments in human rights law have challenged the dominion of the sovereignty norm. First, the international community has recognized the existence of competing human rights norms, some of which now compete with the sovereignty norm for primacy. Second, a diverse group of institutions has applied these norms to challenge the sovereignty norm by imposing civil and criminal liability on government officials when they commit human rights violations. This essay examines how the sovereignty norm has been challenged through human rights litigation. Two recent human rights cases. Filartiga v. Pena-Irala and Regina v. Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet. illustrate the emergence of these normative and institutional challenges to the sovereignty norm. Specifically, this article examines the development of Filartiga-style civil litigation and Pinochet-style criminal litigation and their role in challenging the sovereignty norm.