University of Minnesota

Words presented by the President of the Inter-American Court, Judge Hernán Salgado in Tribute to the Former President of the Court, Héctor Fix-Zamudio, reprinted in 1998 Annual Report of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [539], OEA/Ser.L/V/III.43, doc. 11 (1999).




We have met at this Institution, a center of thought of the Continent, to deliver proper tribute to our friend and teacher, Héctor Fix-Zamudio: a tribute of respect to someone who has stood out for his legal wisdom, for his invariable rectitude in the activity he trusted in, and a tribute of gratitude by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the relevant services it received and of whom he was a Judge for twelve years, and its President for six.

This is a very appropriate occasion to deliver this well deserved tribute; in this place with the distinguished presence of all of you, citizens of various nationalities, Ambassadors, Magistrates, Professors, representatives of international organizations and invited guests.  This meeting confers a special significance to the Act.  It brings a significance of friendship and noble recognition to the person, Dr. Héctor Fix-Zamudio.

Allow me to refer to this prolific man, lover of art and science, in whose multiple activities those essential values of the human spirit are always present.  He is kind yet firm in his decisions, conciliatory in spirit, extremely modest, and eloquent in his simplicity.

He also can exalt a solid moral exterior that manifests itself in the honesty he has observed throughout his life, without changing or poor spirits, to live an honestly that condenses virtue, or, as they taught the classical Roman jurists, to prepare yourself for the eternal search for justice.

Specifically, to speak of justice to get closer to the Law, which is appropriate therefore, at this moment, to look at the juridical face of our honored guest and to intent a eulogy of this brilliant jurist in international law; of this investigator of many topics and prolific writer.

His enormous list of publications results in sixteen legal publications and around two hundred and fifty specialized articles, including monographs and valuable translations from renowned jurists.  He is an expert in procedural and constitutional law, as well as of comparative and human rights law.  In this last field, theory united with practice and contributed to the effective enforcement of the rights of the person.

Héctor Fix-Zamudio’s presence at the Inter-American Court has left his mark of juridical knowledge and human warmth.  There are many benefits that the Tribunal received during Dr. Fix’s tenure during his two periods, between 1986-1997.  During his Presidencies (1990-1993 and 1994-1996) he emphatically sought to improve the general budget of the Court, for which he had to come to this Organization and vehemently defend the needs of the Tribunal.

During his first Presidency, he began the preparatory measures necessary –which later were successful- so that the Government of Costa Rica, at that time under the Calderón-Fournier administration, would donate the building where the seat of the Court is located.  In procedural matters, his vast experience played an important role in the discussions to approve the Rules of Procedure of the Court in 1991, and of the Rules of Procedure actually in effect since 1997.

It would not be extreme to say that those of us here to pay tribute with Dr. Fix, who were his colleagues at the Court, learned from this great master, this lucid jurist and excellent friend.

If gratitude makes men nobler, it also enhances institutions.  Given the personal contribution of Héctor Fix-Zamudio, the Court felt it necessary to give him a sincere tribute in gratitude with something he could really relate to, his passion for legal research.

El liber amicorum in honor of Dr. Fix-Zamudio is, without a doubt, the best tribute we could have made to him.  It contains more than ninety articles in two volumes that reach 1700 pages and cover current diverse subjects in the field of human rights, international law, constitutional law, and procedural law.

Few jurists at the world level could have convoked so many and such distinguished authors, uncompromised collaborators, in such a collective work such as the one we present to you today.  In addition to the fact that this collective work will serve as a remembrance of the gratitude of the Inter-American Court to our honored guest, it will also convert itself into an obligatory reference material for academics in Law.  It also will comply with the mission of the promotion and education of human rights, which constitutes one of the greatest concerns of the OAS and of the organs of inter-American protection, created for these reasons.

Allow me to express our sincere gratitude to the European Union for having made available the funds for the entire cost of production and publication that have made this important legal book possible.  It is worth taking this opportunity to emphasize the involvement that the European Union has undertaken with the difficulties of human rights in Americas.

Knowing the extreme modesty of our honored guest, I am sure that he would have preferred that such a large celebration was not made in his honor, however, I consider it extremely unfair for our guests that they not know of the respect and affection that all of the Judges of the Court and the personnel of the Secretariat have for this person who has been of great service, a friend and an example to follow.

Before concluding, I feel it is important to reiterate our unwavering respect for Mrs. María Cristina de Fix-Zamudio, an intelligent, cordial and gentle woman; who has been the center of gravity for Dr. Fix’s family and his silent collaborator in the academic work of her husband.

A thousand thanks to all of you here who have honored us with your presence this morning.


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