Source: (2013) The American Journal of International Law. 107: 1-44.

The question of whether the quasi-criminal review of the rights bodies is effective, however, is an empirical question, and empirical studies on the practice of ordering and monitoring national trials are altogether lacking. Indeed, Ratner and colleagues' criticisms seem to overlook the practice. If the regional rights courts succeed in triggering local prosecutions, their objection of the regional courts' "physical distance from the victims" and "abstract" judgments is muted. Further, while it is true that the regional courts will not adjudicate individual accountability, the Inter-American Court has been quite willing to inquire into and review national criminal procedures; in this sense, the Court is taking on a quasi-criminal jurisdiction. Ratner and colleagues also object that there is "no guarantee that states will comply with decisions" of the regional courts. The feature that makes the ICC's complementarity jurisdiction potentially effective in stimulating national prosecution is that the ICC carries a big stick: the threat of opening its own prosecution. For its part the Inter-American Court can only threaten to post on its website yet another compliance report, or to report state recalcitrance to an indifferent Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly.9 And yet, states do at times comply with the orders of the regional courts. It is important, in other words, to delve into the records of the rights bodies in order to understand what they do and to what avail. That is the work of this article. (excerpt)