29 Harv. Int'l. L. J. 59 (1988)
Right to Life during Armed Conflict: Disabled Peoples' International v. United States, The

handle is hein.journals/hilj29 and id is 69 raw text is: VOLUME 29, NUMBER I, WINTER 1988

The Right to Life During Armed Conflict:
Disabled Peoples' International v. United States
David Weissbrodt*
Beth Andrus**
I. INTRODUCTION
During its brief military intervention in Grenada in October 1983,
the United States bombed a mental institution, killing sixteen patients
and injuring six.1 On November 5, 1983, Disabled Peoples' Inter-
national (DPI)2 filed a complaint against the United States with the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Commission)3 on be-
* Professor of Law, University of Minnesota.
University of Minnesota Law School, Class of 1988.
1. Petition Submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by Disabled
Peoples' International, Human Rights Committee, and International Disability aw, Inc. on
Behalf of Unnamed, Unnumbered Residents, Both Living and Dead, of the Richmond Hill
Insane Asylum, Grenada, West Indies (Nov. 5, 1983) at 1-2 [hereinafter Petition of DPI]. See
also W. GILMORE, THE GRENADA INTERVENTION: ANALYSIS AND DOCUMENTATION 32 (1984);
U.S. Officer's Briefing: New Report on Grenada, S.F. Chronicle, Nov. 9, 1983, at 22, col. 1.
2. Disabled Peoples' International (DPI) is a nongovernmental organization representing
advocacy groups of and for disabled people in 75 countries. In addition to advocating the rights
of the disabled, DPI works to develop self-help training seminars, exchanges, and other projects
for disabled people. HUMAN RIGHTS INTERNET, HUMAN RIGHTS DIRECTORY, NORTH AMERICA
94 (1984). DPI's efforts in this case have been supported by the J. Roderick McArthur
Foundation.
3. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous organ of the Or-
ganization of American States (OAS), charged with promoting respect for human rights. The
Commission derives its authority from the Charter of the Organization of American States, Apr.
30, 1948, arts. 51, 112, 2 U.S.T. 2394, T.I.A.S. No. 2361, 119 U.N.T.S. 3, amended by
Protocol of Buenos Aires, Feb. 27, 1967, 21 U.S.T. 607, T.I.A.S. No. 6847, 721 U.N.T.S.
324 [hereinafter OAS CHARTER], and the American Convention on Human Rights, Nov. 22,
1969, arts. 31-51, OAS Doc. OEA/ser.K./XVIII. 1, doc. 65 rev. I corr. 1 (1970) (entered into
force July 18, 1978), reprinted in 9 I.L.M. 673 (1970) [hereinafter American Convention]. The
Commission examines communications alleging violations of human rights obligations contained
in the American Convention and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,
OAS Res. XXX, OAS Doc. OEA/ser.L./V/I.4 (1963) (adopted by the Ninth International
Conference of American States, March 30-May 2, 1948), reprinted in T. BUERGENTHAL, R.
NORRIS & D. SHELTON, PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE AMERICAS 333 (2nd ed. 1986)
[hereinafter American Declaration].
Only those states which have ratified the American Convention are bound by its provisions.
The U.S. signed the American Convention and President Carter transmitted it to the Senate for
advice and consent to ratification, but the Senate has yet to act on that request. Buergenthal,
Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights, in 2 HUMAN RIGHTS IN INTERNATIONAL
LAW: LEGAL AND POLICY ISSUES 439, 440 (T. Meron ed. 1984). All members of the OAS, even
those not signatories to the American Convention, are bound by the OAS Charter, the American
Declaration, and the Statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 1960 Annual
Report of the OAS Secretary General, OAS Doc. OEA/ser.D./III. 12, at 19-21 (1961), reprinted in

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