Over the last three decades, Latin America and the Caribbean have made much progress towards democracy, freedom, and legal protections for human rights. In 1982, just ten countries in the region enjoyed democratic rule. Today, all but Cuba have popularly elected governments. In addition, human rights have been written into laws and constitutions in almost every country. Yet rights, freedoms, violence, and citizen security are still among the region’s greatest challenges. This failure is largely not for lack of legal mechanisms, but rather weaknesses of rule of law and state capacity across the region.

The Inter-American Dialogue’s Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program aims to elevate policy discussions around human rights, democratic institutions, government accountability, civil society engagement, and hemispheric cooperation. 

The program was established in 2015 to honor Peter D. Bell, a founding co-chair of the Dialogue’s Board of Directors, with support of the Ford Foundation. The broad scope and ambitions of the program are a fitting tribute to Peter’s expansive career as a tireless champion of human rights.