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As U.S. social justice advocates increasingly turn to the Inter‐American Commission on Human Rights (the “IACHR” or the “Commission”) as a tool to advance domestic social justice advocacy, there has been significant growth in the number of requests for thematic hearings. Thematic hearings offer a unique opportunity to raise‐awareness of human rights issues, build coalitions, strengthen the regional and international human rights record on the United States, and advocate for changes to law and policy, as well as to promote regional norms. To leverage this opportunity, it is useful to understand thematic hearings and how they function within the Inter‐ America Human Rights System.

This resource is intended to provide U.S. lawyers with practical guidance on the role of thematic hearings at the Inter‐American Commission. Focusing on the U.S. context, this resource provides a brief background on the Commission and thematic hearings. It also presents a number of considerations to inform lawyers’ use of thematic hearings as a tool to advance human rights accountability. As a practice‐oriented document, it distills advocates’ insights, recommendations, and reflections on how to request, prepare for, and follow up on thematic hearings to maximize their impact. The Appendix includes a synopsis of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure that govern thematic hearings.