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This article examines the historical origins of the Inter-American human rights system and key achievements of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights over the past fifty years. It explores the Commission’s use of on sight visits and country reports to expose human rights violations of military governments during the 1970s and its increased use of the case system since the restoration of democratic rule in the 1990s. The article also notes how shifts in US foreign policy toward the region impacted the Commission’s work. It concludes by noting certain obstacles and challenges currently faced by the Commission.