Nomination form

Nomination form
International Memory of the World Register
Judicial files concerning the birth of a right: the effective remedy as a contribution of the Mexican writ of
amparo to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948.
1.0 Summary (max 200 words)
The judicial files submitted corres pond to writs of amparo adjudicated by the Mexican federal courts
between 1869 and 1935; bearing wit ness to the birth of a legal institution incorporated to constitutional
systems in different count ries around the world regarding the protection of individual rights. The amparo
trial led t o the inclusion of the right to an effective judicial remedy into article 8 of the UDHR. The scope
of protection guaranteed by such a trial, of remote S panis h origin but developed during the 19t h century
in Mexico, covers property rights, public liberties, equality, security rights, and the right to life of both
Mexican nationals and foreigners.
During the development, deliberation, and approval of the UDHR, other proposals were considered
regarding the notion of effective remedy. The Anglo-S axon tradition of habeas corpus seemed too
specific, focusing only on physical integrity. The suggestion brought by the Mexican delegation
predominated, since the writ of amparo functions as a judicial mechanism to count er abuses of power in
all possible forms.
This novel initiative filled a void in the UDHR. The objective of this nomination is to demonstrate that 80
years before the UDHR, the Mexican writ of amparo had begun to emerge as an effective remedy
against abuses of power, and that it held the public trust even during authoritarian times.
2.0 Nominator
2.1 Name of nominator (person or organization)
Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico, SCJ)
2.2 Relationship to the nominated documentary heritage
Generator and Custodian
2.3 Contact person(s) (to provide information on nomination)
Dr. Carlos Pérez Vázquez, Human Rights Coordinator and Chief of Staff to the Chief Justice, Supreme
Court of Justice of Mexico
2.4 Contact details
“Many dictionary and legal definitions have been offered for the term "amparo," but the Mexican institution of this name has no exact equivalent in
English or common law. Literally, it means protection, favor, assistance, or support. Legally, in one of its aspects, it resembles our common law writ of
habeas corpus. This particular aspect of physical freedom is the basis of similarly named institutions of amparo in other Latin American nations. However,
as the amparo has evolved and been molded over a century of time in Mexico, it embraces, in addition to the habeas corpus elements, aspects of other
common law writs of injunction, error, mandamus, and certiorari.” Helen C. Clagett & David M. Valderrama, 'Writ of Amparo, Judicial Review, and
Protection of Individual Rights', A revised guide to the law and legal literature of Mexico, Washington : Library of Congress, 1973, p. 38.
Carlos Pérez Vázquez
Avenida Pino Suárez 2, Colonia Centro, Distrito Federal, C.P.
06065, México
[email protected]
00 (52) 55 41131315
Identity and description of the documentary heritage
3.1 Name and identification details of the items being nominated
If inscribed, the exact title and institution(s) to appear on the certificate should be given
Title: Expedientes sobre el nacimiento de un derecho: el recurs o efectivo como aportación del juicio
de amparo mexicano a la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos (DUDH) de 1948. (Judicial
files concerning the birth of a right: the effective remedy as a contribution of the Mexican writ of amparo to
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948).
Name of the Institution: Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación de México (Supreme Court of Justice of
Mexico, SCJ)
Description of the items: A sample of 31 case files from the period from 1869 to 1935.
The judicial files to be evaluated concern individual petitions of amparo initiated by common citizens
before Mexican federal courts; 18 of these cases were heard by the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico
(SCJ) and 13 by federal District Courts. They have been drawn from a selection made by the staff of this
Supreme Court, advised by independent experts, wisely recruited for this project. The first group of case
files was selected from among the 275,000 case files that comprise the Supreme Court’s historical
collection; the second group of case files form part of those held by the federal District Courts, which store
nearly 87,000 case files. The first were found in Mexico City; the second in 6 historical court archives in
different parts of the country (Campeche, Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Monterrey, and
Queretaro), under custody of the Archive Center of the Mexican Supreme Court and of the Legal Cultural
This selection of documents ranges from the publication of the first Ley de Amparo (the Amparo Trial
Statute) in 1869 up to the publication of the Ley de Amparo of 1935, whic h remained in effect until 2013.
The sample demonstrates that the amparo procedure, even since its origin, covered a very wide spectrum
of the protection of individual rights. On the other hand, such a wide prot ection grew expansively,
reaching different continents. Federal judges became protectors of persons, even against authoritarian
orders issued by other branches of the State. This occurred in Mexico decades before the notion of
effective judicial remedy appeared in the Universal Declaration of 1948.
This selection of case files encompasses a wide range of topics, which include private property rights and
equality, public liberties, guarantees of safety and certainty, access to natural resources, and the forms of
protecting human life, which was particularly at risk during tumultuous times in Mexico. The Supreme
Court archives held in each state, both in Mexico City and through a system of Legal Cultural Houses
present in 45 cities around t he country, offer thousands of court files that may be consulted by the public,
and which demonstrate the particular problems found in each region of the country. These case files track
real life stories; they are a historical memory of public and private institutions involved. They reflect
realities in time and space.
3.4 History/provenance
The case files generated by the federal District Courts were, in the beginning, held under their custody,
later on, due to insufficient space, deposited in the local public archives; since 1997 these files have been
stored by the Supreme Court of Justice.
The case files generated by the Supreme Court have been in its care. Bet ween 1978 and 1991, also a
lack of space, they were deposited in the National Archives. On June 29, 2000, the reintegration of the
archival collection at the SCJ building was formalized. This was mainly due to its jurisdictional value and
because this facility can offer the proper conditions for its preservation and conservation.
In 1995, according to the provisions of the Federal Judiciary Power Statute (Ley Orgánica del Poder
Judicial de la Federación), a specific obligation was imposed on the S upreme Court to preserve all legal
documents from the whole federal court system. The institutional capacity acquired since then is
notewort hy in terms of safeguard, systematization, order, availability, free of charge to the public and
geographical distribution throughout the country, the existence of kilometers and kilometers of case files
that date from before Mexico’s Independence to date. However, the value of these archives is not only
quantitative; it is also, and above all, qualitative, holding amongst its pages the history of common people
during the different stages of history, representing the constitutional conformation of the American
Legal information
4.3 Legal status
In 1995, the Organic Law for the Federal Judiciary Power imposed on the Federal Supreme Court of
Justice the obligation to create a Cent er of Documentation and Analysis, tasked with safeguarding all
the federal court files that had been held in different archives, and which had been stored under
precarious conditions. The documentary memory of the federal cases ran the risk of disappearing.
Since then, the Plenary of the Supreme Court was responsible for regulating the operation of the
Cent er of Document ation and Analysis in reference, specifically in terms of the coordination and
administration of the cent ral legal archive (of the Supreme Court) and those of the federal
jurisdictional bodies outside Mexico City, historical and administrative records and archives that
comprise the documentary heritage safeguarded by this high court.
4.4 Accessibility
Describe how the item(s) / collection may be accessed
In 1995, the Supreme Court was facing a critical situation due to the little importance that had, until
then, been given to t he preservation of t he documentary herit age. The court files were virt ually
inaccessible by the public and their use had been practically restricted to jurisdictional pers onnel. To
centralize the files and prevent these from being damaged, warehous es were leased for their storage.
But after a certain time, warehouses were no longer sufficient.
Given the costs of renting, it was considered preferable to acquire buildings where, in addition t o
offering direct access to court files, a specialized legal library could be made available t o the public in
all the federal circuits. Nearly twenty years later, the Supreme Court’s system of libraries, available at
the same buildings where the legal arc hives are housed (available at locations distributed throughout
the country), with a bibliographic catalog, currently, of nearly one million volumes published by the
major publishers of legal and social sciences materials in the world. Collected at 45 Legal Cultural
Hous es, with locations in the 31 states of Mexico, and also at the centralized locations in Mexico City,
the court files can be consulted in comfortable venues adapted for academic work, and are
complemented with books and quality journals in the reference libraries.
The institutional commitment of giving documentary access to everyone can be measured according
to public spending alloc ated each year by the Supreme Court to safeguard its archives and libraries.
Plus the construction costs for a new building to house the central archive, which will gather the court
files from 1950 to the present (expected to be completed by the end of 2014); 250 million pesos
(approximately US $20 million) is budgeted each year for the operation of the 45 Cultural Houses
around the country alone. To operate the system, 450 Supreme Court staff have been assigned
permanently (most of whom have a legal background), to the different locations around the country,
and are available to help any person interested in cons ulting thes e archives. The real challenge in the
upcoming years will be to make these spaces more inviting. The SCJ would like to see more and
more users, national and foreigners, consulting the available legal materials. In addition, it would like
to welcome a wider spectrum of users, not only legal professionals, but also historians, sociologists,
philosophers, political scientists, anthropologists, writers, students, or any other person interested in
understanding the different realities of the country reflected in court disputes.
Article 6 of the Mexican Constitution was amended in 2002 to include as a fundamental right, access
to information and the protection of personal information, also creating a federal autonomous
administrative body responsible for guarant eeing this right. Accordingly, the Supreme Court undertook
the task of facilitating access to its documentary archives, through concrete measures.
The files submitted on this nomination, as well as all those held in the archives safeguarded by the
Supreme Court, can be accessed by everyone.
Therefore any user can request documentation under the modalities of physical consult, photocopy,
certified copy, by email, CD, or DVD.
In addition to this, an index of files of the High Court from 1898 to 1928 is available online via the
website of the SCJ under the section Catálogo de Expedientes Históricos (1898-1928) (Catalog of
Historical Case Files (1898-1928). There is also an ongoing program to catalog and digit alize
historical case files generated by the federal jurisdictional bodies outside Mexico City, which will
allows online consultation of the catalog records and digitalized images of these files.
Specifically, regarding the case files submitted to the MoW-UNES CO program, described in
APPENDIX-1, the cases concerning specific amparo trials, brought before the Supreme Court of
Justice, and also those files held in t he historical court arc hives outside Mexico City in the Legal
Cultural Houses in Campeche and Cuernavaca, are cataloged according to archival and legal criteria
on a consulting system that allows access to data and images; while the documentation held in
Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Mont errey, and Queretaro is in the process of being cataloged. All these
files are available to everyone.
The Supreme Court has disbursed material and human resources. It is committed to continue doing
so in order to create easier access and greater availability, through physical consults and a program
of selective digitalization of documents, currently being developed.
Added to this nomination, the Supreme Court will facilitate the consult of documents under its care,
through specific programs that build on the efforts made and public resources disbursed until now, so
that any individual anywhere in the world will be able to remotely access any of the documents most
representative of the founding historical eras of our law system, complementing the partially
digitalized materials wit h a program of t he selective digitalization of files that will be extended into the
The Mexican Supreme Court will also continue executing internal policies on training and awareness
for the personnel responsible of safeguarding the materials at both the Documentation Center and the
Cultural Houses, in order to facilitate public other than professional researches. In addition, the staff
should also have a legal background to facilitate the user the understanding of technical legal
aspects; thus, making easier to any one have a plane understanding of complex documentary
expressions which, represent a clear blueprint of different times and issues, as occurred in many
different regions around the country.
4.5 Copyright status
Describe the copyright status of the item(s) / collection
In Mexico, article 14, section VIII of the Federal Copyright Law provides that court and legal texts are
not subject to such protection.
5.0 Assessment against the selection criteria
5.1 Authenticity.
These doc uments were generat ed by the District Courts of the Federal Judiciary and the SCJ; also,
they bear the original stamps, seals, signatures, and certifications that confirm their authenticity.
5.2 World significance
The documentary heritage proposed for registry in the UNES CO-MoW program is a direct legal
antecedent to the content of the UDHR, an international instrument that, as we know, was a
response from the international community to the horrors of Nazism and the Second World War,
and the enormous efforts of the United Nations member states to incorporate int o a single catalog
the minimum rights of all persons to live in dignity.
Multiple proposals and initiatives arose during the process of the development, deliberation, and
approval of the UDHR to include different rights in the text originally drafted by the Human Rights
Commission. As part of this work, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly,
prior to its approval by the General Assembly, on the night of December 10, 1948, the Mexican
delegation proposed the incorporation of a new right, from the perspective of international law int o
the draft text: the right to an effective remedy against the abuse of power, the origin of which is
found in the Mexican legal system since the 19t h century. The Latin Americ an tradition of the writ
of amparo appeared to be more appropriate than the Anglo-S axon habeas corpus, which, as a
legal remedy, only protected against acts of deprivation of freedom.
The initiative had its roots in t he legal institution of the writ of amparo, present in Mexican
legislation since t he second half of the 19th century. Its expansion over the Latin American region
during the first decades of the 20th century and the regularity with which this remedy is perceived
can also explain the inclusion of the notion of the amparo months before, in the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, approved in Bogota in May 1948.
During the 9th International American Conference, from which the American Declaration arose,
the Mexican delegation in Bogota, comprised of top level diplomats (who months later were als o
present at the deliberations for the UDHR), proposed that article 18 of the American Declaration
include, for all individuals, a “simple and brief proceeding to seek the prot ection of justice” . The
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Conferencias Internacionales Americanas (Segundo Suplemento 1945-1954): Recopilación de tratados y otros
documentos” (International American Conferences (Second Supplement 1945-1954): Recopilation of treaties and other documents). Mexico,
SRE, second reprint 1990. Pg. 123.
intention of the Mexican Chancellery argued for the generalization of a national legal remedy,
effective within each country, although susceptible to preventing the creation of an international
system that would Foster an “undue use of the diplomatic protection of citizens abroad”, invading
the purview of national aut horities. The latter, in accordance with the non-interventionist theory
that has characterized the Mexican state on the international stage .
At the end of 1948, the approval of the proposal led by the Mexican diplomat Pablo Campos Ortiz
and considered novel by various delegations, filled a void in the draft of the UDHR. The access to
an effective remedy implies specific means of control on the acts of the authorities that affect or
violat e an individual’s rights, furthermore it is a legal institution with a broader range of protection
than that guaranteed by other schemes of legal protection, such as the habeas corpus or the
French remedy of appeal (Cassation).
In the opinion of represent atives of other countries who participated in the preparatory work for
the UDHR, such as Guy Pérez Cisneros, delegate from Cuba and rapporteur for the
Subcommittee on the Rights of Man (body responsible for drafting a Declaration text in a short
time), the work of the 9th American Conference influenced the drafting of the project for the
Human Rights Commission of the United National Economic and Social Council, created almost
in parallel to the project for the Inter-American Legal Committee of Bogota.
According to the Cuban delegat e, both the American Declaration and the UDHR had a common
origin. On S eptember 5, 1944, regarding the Dumbarton Oaks Project, the Mexican Ministry of
Foreign A ffairs held the following position: “[o]n the one hand, achieve that the human rights be
laid out in a Declaration that is conventionally accepted by all States; and on the other, organiz e
an international system to ensure that said document receives practical application”.
This served as the basis for the initiative to consider judicial remedy as an essential right of
individuals, being simple and swift, to protect them against acts that would violate their basic
rights and freedoms as recognized by the Constitution or the Law.
The text with which the Mexican writ of amparo was recognized in the UDHR states:
Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals
for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
At the end of the Third Meeting, the Mexican delegate Campos Ortiz, in his address to the United
Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris , affirmed that
regarding t he UDHR, although it did not constitute a legal obligation, the States should observe
“always the base, broad and firm, to carry out one of the highest purposes of the United Nations:
to promote universal respect for Human Rights”. Under an international order of peace, the
Mexican delegate continued, a regime of respect for individual rights was necessary, while the
main concern should be the need for an effective legal remedy.
The positive impact of this remedy, through article 8 of the UDHR, generated the conditions
needed for the development of international systems for the protection of human rights, as a key
element in the rule of the prior exhaustion of domestic judicial resources, the basic rule of the
principle of complement and subsidiarity that characterizes International Human Rights Law.
This contribution from the Mexican tradition of the writ of amparo in 1948 was recognized by other
participant in the Third Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations. René Cassin,
Declarations made in the National Press by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Jaime Torres Bodet on March 19, 1948, Ministry of Foreign
Affiars. “México en la IX Conferencia Internacional Americana” (Mexico at the 9th International Amercian Conference). Mexic o, SRE, 1948.
Pg. 312.
Ministry of Foreign Affair s. “México en la IX Conferencia Internacional Americana” Mexico at the 9th Inter-American International
Conference), Mexico, SRE, 1948. Pg. 137.
Óp. Cit. Pg. 131
member of the Drafting Commission (as a representative of Franc e)) and rapporteur for the initial
proposal , said that for “[t]he effective realization of Human Rights”, in his opinion, the Mexican
delegation had provided a very important text, article 8, led by “Mr. Campos Ortiz”, proposal that
he rated as “acutely accurate” .
Examples that support the importance of the right to an effective remedy are found while seeking
the influence of the writ of amparo in similar human rights protection mechanisms either
internationally or regionally, following the UDHR; such as the European Convention on
Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of 1950, the International Convention on Civil and Political
Rights of 1966, the American Convention on Human Rights of 1969 , and t he A frican Chart er of
Human and Peoples Rights of 1981.
In Latin America, constitutional history shows that the influences of the Mexican writ of amparo
are also found in t he constitutional legislation of countries in the region, such as El Salvador,
which incorporated it following t he debates held by its Constituent Congress in 1886, where there
are clear references to the Mexican model of individual protection. Similarly, in Honduras and
Nicaragua, where it appeared for the first time and was recognized in their respective
Constitutions of 1894. Later, during the first half of the 20t h century, the writ of amparo was
introduced into the Constitutions of Guatemala in 1921, Panama in 1941, and Costa Rica in 1949.
The draft constitutions of 1898 and 1921 for the t wo attempts at a Central American Federation
included the writ of amparo. In addition, Argentina offers an important development in the amparo
trial model, which although incorporated int o its provincial legislation during the first half of the
20th century, assigning jurisdiction to state judges; it is incorporated jurisdictionally in 1957 and
1958. In 1966, the amparo trial was legislated for the first time and the A rgentinian Constitution of
1994 formally established the amparo procedure. In Brazil, during the constituent debate of 19331934, which would establish the writ of mandamus (mandado de segurança), there were
influences and import ant references to the Mexican writ of amparo, particularly in the use of the
verb “amparar” (to protect) to refer to the action resulting from the writ.
In Europe, Spain adopted the institution of the Mexican writ of amparo in the “remedy of protection
of individual guarantees”, whic h is attributed to the Mexican constitutionalist in exile Rodolfo
Reyes, whos e influence on the constituents of 1931 of the Second Republic is seen in academic
literature on the different aspects of the constitutional drafts. Although it had its own legal source,
in Germany the Fundamental Law incorporated an individual constitutional remedy in 1949
Toro de la Huerta, Mauricio Iván. “Anexo II” localizado en “ La Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos: un texto Multidimensional
(Fascículo 2)” (Appendix II to the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a Multidimensional text (part 2)) CNDH, Mexico, August 2012; Pg.
51. Available on the CNDH w ebsite at:
Cassin, René. “El problema de la realización efectiva de los derechos humanos en la sociedad universal ” (The problem of the effectiv e
realization of human rights in w orld society) found in: various authors “Veinte años de Evolución de los Derechos Humanos” (Twenty years
of the evolution of human rights), UNAM-IIJ, Mexico, 1974; Pg. 397. Available on the Institute of Legal Research website at:
Artic le 13. Right to effectiv e remedy. All persons whose rights and freedoms recognized under this Convention have been violated have the
right to effective remedy before a federal court, including when the violation has been committed by persons acting on duty of their offic ial
Artic le 2. 3. Each of the states party to this Convention commits to guaranteeing that: a) All persons whose rights or freedoms recognized
under this Convention have been violated may seek effective remedy, even when the violation has been committed by persons acting on
duty of their official charge; […]
Artic le 25. Legal Protection. 1. All persons have the right to a simple and sw if t remedy or to any other effective remedy before the courts
and tribunals holding jurisdiction, that protects them against acts that would violate their fundamental rights recognized by the Constitution,
the law , or this Convention, even when such violation is committed by persons acting on duty of their offic ial charge./ 2. The party states
commit to: a) guaranteeing that the authority identif ied by the legal system of the state will rule on the rights of all persons that seek such
remedy; b) developing the possibilities of the legal remedy, and c) guaranteeing compliance, by the corresponding authorities, with all
rulings and decisions that have aw arded the remedy.
Artic le 7. 1. All persons have the right to have their case hear, which implies: a) the right to appeal before national bodies against acts that
w ould violate their fundamental rights recognized and guaranteed by the conventions, law s, orders, and customs in eff ect […].
(Bundesverfassungsbeschwerde) the characteristics of which are similar to the Mexican writ of
amparo ; Austria and S witzerland also recognize remedies of constitutional protection, with
different influences, but with the aim of being a useful and effective in protecting the individual;
there is another similar development in the rec ognition of the right to effective remedy in other
Eastern and Central European countries, and also in some countries in Asia and Africa.
In this manner it was internationally recogniz ed that the right to effective remedy is the useful
means to guarantee both the protection of human rights and appropriate reparations for victims of
human rights violations, as a central element of the right of access to justice, which contributed to
the consolidation of the writ of amparo borne out of the Mexican legal system.
In summary, the universality and subsequent generalization of the right to effective remedy implied
an institutional guarantee regarding the structure of the human rights protection national and
international systems. Recapitulating the statements made by René Cassin in 1948, Mexico
proposed the notion of effective remedy because behind this was the declaration approved in
Bogota in February that same year. But he recognized that these elements had not been included
in the early draft of the UDHR. Cassin “gives homage not only to the man that made the proposal,
but to the country that possesses an institution called the writ of amparo” .
Today, the Mexican Supreme Court gives continuity to the generation of legislative standards at the
highest level of protection for a wide range of human rights. The evolution of its jurisprudence, over
more than 150 years, bears witness to a substantive labor that since its origins has been based
primarily on petitions of amparo granted to individuals by federal judges. The continuity of the
protection derived from the amparo, and also subsequent legislative amendments (such as the
important Human Rights constitutional reform published in 2011) explain why on December 10,
2013, the Mexican High court received the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights given
out every five years. The justification for the prize is based on “the Supreme Court of Justice having
provided real protection of the constitutional rights of its citizens and residents in the country. This
court has achieved important advances in the promotion of human rights through its interpretations
and the application of the Mexican constitution and its obligations under Int ernational Human Rights
Law; additionally, it has set important standards in human rights for Mexico and for the Latin
HÄBERLE, Peter, “El recurso de amparo en el sistema de jurisdicción constitucional de la República Federal de Alemania” (The w rit of
relief in the constitutional jurisdiction system of the German Federal Republic); in Héctor Fix-Zamudio and Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor
(coords.), El Derecho de Amparo en el Mundo (Appeal law around the w orld), Mexico, Porrúa-UNAM-Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2006.
LÖSING, Norbert, “El derecho de amparo en Austria” (Amparo trial in Austria); FERNÁNDEZ SEGADO, Francisco, “El recurso de amparo
en España” (Amparo trial in Spain); BRAGE CAMAZANO, Joaquín, “La staatsrechtliche beschwerde o recurso constitucional de amparo en
Suiza” (The constitutional remedy of appeal in Sw itzerland); BRAGE CAMAZANO, Joaquín, “Una visión panorámica del recurso
constitucional de amparo en los países de la Europa Central y del Este (Chequia, Croacia, Eslovaquia, Eslovenia, Hungría, Macedonia,
Polonia y Rusia)” (An overview of the amparo trial in Eastern and Central European Countries (Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary,
Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia), and CARDINAL, Pablo, “La institución del recurso de amparo de los derechos
fundamentales y la juslusofonia –los casos de Macau y Cabo Verde” (The institution of the writ of amparo for fundamental rights and
juslusofonia -the cases of Macau and Cape Verde), all in Héctor Fix-Zamudio and Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor (coords.), El Derecho de
Amparo en el Mundo (Amparo trial around the w orld), Mexico, Porrúa-UNAM-Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2006.
Idem. Pg. 397
American region”.
In this context, the full comprehension of the historical development of the court cases, which for
over a century and a half have resolved legal problems brought by any person, demonstrates the
manner in which the constitutional state was cons olidated, i.e. the rule of law in this region of the
globe. However, it must also be considered that the federal court archives, ins ufficiently explored
until now, comprise a fundamental vein for understanding the emergenc e of remedies of
constitutional protection of rights worldwide.
In this context, the case files nominated represent a primary source for research in terms of the
history and knowledge of the culture of humanity, as they held to understand the development of a
legal institution aimed at protecting human rights.
5.3 Comparative criteria:
1 Time
The files nominated reveal the appearance and the process of the evolution of the writ of relief in
Mexico, as the first procedural institution of its kind during the second half of the 19th century in Latin
America. In the then young Mexican nation, the writ of amparo was created (first locally in 1841 in the
state of Yucatan, and then federally in 1847) as an institution that would protect individual rights. At
the time, the protection of rights was precarious and complicated, given the predominant perc eption
that the will of the legislator was untouchable; the law could not be declared unconstitutional. The
documents reveal how t he Federal Judiciary acted to consolidate itself and gain legitimacy against
the political power of the dictatorship or before the economic interests of the large corporations; and
also the manner in which the federal courts proceeded when there were no mechanisms for
defending specific rights, such as the protection of agrarian rights, before and after the agrarian
reform. In this sense, the c ase files submitted t o UNESCO illustrat e how the amparo corrected these
shortcomings and developed strength as an effective means for protecting rights.
The evolution of this remedy led it to become a paradigmatic legal element that provides a wide
range of legal consequences for the protection and restitution of individual rights. Such
characteristics led to the incorporation of similar mechanisms in different national legal systems and
also in the universal human rights protection system. It is considered a legal remedy ahead of its
time, given that the protection of human rights by legal means, with a scope similar to that of the
amparo, started to be implemented in national courts around the world in 1950 with the impact of its
recognition and incorporation into the UDHR.
3 People
Geneva, December 9, 2013.- The High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, congratulates the Federal Supreme Court of Justice
for receiv ing the United Nations Human Rights Prize. “The w ork of the Supreme Court of Justice has been crucial in promoting the
development and implementation of international human rights law in Mexico”, Pillay said. This is the fir st time the Human Rights Prize has
been given to a court. “The fact that this prize is given to a High Court is a clear reflection of the essential role the judiciary power plays in
protecting human rights. Judges, at all levels , are the protectors of human rights”, the High Commissioner added. It underlined the
fundamental role of the Supreme Court of Justice in the implementation of the landmark Constitutional Reform regarding human rights in
2011, and the important decisions made by the Court to advance the protection of human rights on matters such as the scope of military
jurisdiction, the superseding interests of children, the rights of indigenous peoples, the prohibition of torture, and the freedom of expression.
The Supreme Court of Justice has made not only international human rights law its own, but als o the standards of the Inter-American System
on Human
Rights, w hich shows how both legislations are reinforced. United Nations Press Release, at
The case files capture an important period in the c onstruction of the constitutional system in the
Americas; particularly, in count ries with Hispanic roots. Those benefited from these cases were
individuals (nationals or foreigners ) and society in general, whose immediate effect was felt on
recognizing their right to seek protection from the courts against arbitrary acts of authorities.
The documents selected illustrate an original manner in whic h, contrary to the contemporary trend in
Europe, rights violations could be remedied through a legal remedy. The case files submitted for
consideration gather the considerations expressed by Mexican judges against such violations caused
to specific individuals by the government and by the legislator; and their content demonstrates an
individual and societal significance in terms of the restitution or remedy of the rights violated by the
authorities. These documents are clear evidence of the historical, economic, political, and social
context of the time when they were created, the institution of the writ of relief, and its profound social
impact. This impact transcended throughout the continents to be considered by the Drafting
Commission for the UDHR as an example of a universally effective remedy in favor of the individual.
4 Subject and theme
The documents submitted offer a sample of the manner in which the writ of amparo quickly gained
legitimacy among the people in Mexico. On filing such petition, any person could defend
themselves against abuses of authority, local authorities, and large corporations, which because of
political differences or differences of opinion, or the unjust imposition of power without cause
founded in law, could cause injury to them. During times when the check and balances were
incipient, it was not unus ual to find restrictions on the freedom of expression; or acts of
discrimination based on ethnic origin; victims of torture, cruel, inhuman, and denigrating treatment;
orders of exile; a lack of legal certainty on proceedings brought against individuals; imprisonment
without any crime having been committed; seizures of private property; forced recruitment into the
army to cover discharges, or even sentences of the death penalty based on reasons that were not
even considered in the criminal law that, by exception, permitted this punishment. On acting under
this enormous spectrum, it can be affirmed that the Mexican amparo was constructed as an
effective legal remedy, enshrined years later in article 8 of the UDHR.
The universality of the right to effective remedy implies an evolution in the theory of human rights,
as an analysis of the institutions, legislation, and effects of the amparo has led to the development
of social and legal studies on systems for the protection of human rights worldwide.
6 Social/ spiritual/ community significance:
The documentary heritage propos ed witnesses the evolution of the administration of justice
regarding the protection of human rights and its positive impact on the lives of individuals and
society in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries; its influence on universal culture is seen in the overall
scope of the right to effective remedy and its value for humanity, as today this is one of t he legal
mechanisms individuals have in many countries to defend their rights and freedoms. This is a
human right recognized universally by the countries that comprise the United Nations. The
recognition of this human right, the defens e of rights through a legal remedy, is the cornerstone to
the effective realization of the United Nations’ values: peace and security.
The content of these case files, reflecting the development and impact of the amparo on daily life,
explains and help have a better understanding of the founding moments of the history of universal
human rights.
6.0 Contextual information
6.1 Rarity
The specificity of the case files submitted for consideration, which covers a wide range in the
protection of the individual, even during times when the judiciary tended not to interfere in the actions
of the other branches of the state, makes them unique.
6.2 Integrity
The thirty-one case files are complete.
The state of the preservation of the paper is good and there are no damages or alterations found.