By Ezequiel Indriago Perez
When I learned I would be interning at the Instituto de Derechos Humanos y Democracia in Lima this summer, I was eager to be immersed in human rights work in the South American context. Over the past six weeks, I have explored the beautiful districts of Lima, tried many emblematic dishes, and engaged in meaningful work. My experience thus far has been nothing short of educational and fulfilling!
The Instituto de Derechos Humanos y Democracia, or IDEHPUCP, is an interdisciplinary academic institute of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú whose mission is to preserve and strengthen democracy and human rights through research, education, and advocacy. Although the institute is in Peru, its scope extends beyond national borders, addressing both domestic human rights issues as well as those of international importance, particularly within the Americas. There are seven main research areas that the IDEHPUCP tackles, including Human Mobility, Indigenous Peoples, and the Inter-American System of Human Rights. Each research group comprises professionals with diverse academic backgrounds. As a result, my co-workers are jurists, political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists. Working in this environment has led to many new learning experiences, emphasizing the importance of pluralism in human rights work.
Within my first week at the IDEHPUCP, my coordinator informed me that I would be assisting in the research and the drafting of an Amicus Curiae that would be presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as part of an Advisory Opinion requested by the Mexican government in 2022. In this request, Mexico has asked that the Court clarify the responsibilities of private firearm manufacturers concerning their practices related to fundamental rights guaranteed by the American Convention on Human Rights. For context, about five hundred thousand firearms are illegally trafficked into Mexico from the United States annually. Of those, 70% to 90% of homicides in Mexico are performed with trafficked guns from the United States.
This Advisory Opinion is part of a broader effort by the Mexican state to address the increased gun violence in the country and to hold American firearm manufacturers and distributors responsible for their direct involvement in violating the human right to life. Additional to the Advisory Opinion, there are two ongoing lawsuits before the District Courts of Massachusetts and Arizona in which Mexico is suing specific gun manufacturers and resellers which they claim negligently enable straw purchases of firearms and willingly sell guns to people they know will traffic them into Mexico to fuel organized crime. With the Advisory Opinion requested to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Mexico hopes that the Court establishes clear and consistent guidelines of acceptable gun manufacturing practices that adhere to the American Convention on Human Rights.
My involvement in this project has been incredibly thought-provoking as I learn how victims of gun violence can often be left without legal recourse due to immunity laws governing gun manufacturers in the United States, and how challenging it is to find solutions amid conflicting internal state laws and international standards when it comes to human rights violations. Coming to Lima, I did not expect to be part of such a timely and relevant issue. However, getting the opportunity has been very rewarding, especially witnessing how the IDEHPUCP’s work plays an active role in shaping the future of gun-related violence in the continent. I have learned so much, from doing legal research and writing in Spanish to collaborating in my first Amicus Curiae! I could not be more satisfied with the work I have been able to take part in these past weeks.
I am looking forward to new learning experiences and participating in other important projects, including those in the Human Mobility area, in the coming weeks.
P.S. – I can confirm that Peruvians do, in fact, have exceptional gastronomy, and it is slowly but surely becoming my favourite cuisine of all time!
 See Estados Unidos Mexicanos Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Solicitud de Opinión Consultiva, CRI-01706.22 (11 November 2022) at 8.
 See Estados Unidos Mexicanos v Smith & Wesson Brands Inc et al (2023); Estados Unidos Mexicanos v Diamondback Shooting Sports Incorporated et al (2022).