Urgent Measures (UMs) are granted by international human rights bodies to protect persons who are in a situation of extreme gravity and urgency. In Latin America, UMs are mostly granted to protect detainees, when their right to life, integrity and/or health are in danger of being violated. When a UM is granted by a human rights body, the State is requested to provide detainees with immediate access to medical care, drinking water, food, sanitation, fresh air, or natural light. In such cases, UMs may prompt emergency protective actions that can, in the most extreme circumstances, save the life of the beneficiary of these measures. Though UMs have been issued on thousands of occasions, they have attracted little academic attention. The few studies that exist focus on a doctrinal analysis on compliance. Such studies have several shortcomings in that they primarily examine only procedural legal aspects, and often excessively rely on information provided by human rights bodies themselves. As UMs often face practical, financial and political constraints that shape and limit their implementation, it is crucial to establish a better understanding of how these measures are applied in practice.
IMPACTUM, written by Prof Clara Burbano Herrera, is an ambitious research project that moves beyond the traditional legal research questions and methods of analysing UMs. It instead proposes an interdisciplinary study of UMs that: 1) considers the context in which UMs are enforced and how they are applied on the ground; 2) assesses the impacts of UMs on detainees, legal and institutional systems and on (inter)national actors; 3) discusses their strengths and limitations; and 4) analyses their wider learning effects. With reference to UMs granted by 4 human rights bodies to protect at-risk detainees in 6 Latin American countries, IMPACTUM will develop a critical normative impact framework useful to provide a deeper theoretical analysis, as well as insight into how to formulate UMs to maximise their practical protective effects. IMPACTUM will thus uncover and present new knowledge on emerging issues with UMs that are currently unaddressed in academia and in practice.