SJD Candidate
Thesis title:
Human Rights Law in Contexts of Democratic Erosion: The Approach of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to Authoritarian Rule in Venezuela and the Response of the Nation’s Apex Court
Office in Falconer Hall
84 Queen's Park
Toronto, M5S 2C5

Julian Huertas is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law under the supervision of Professors Karen Knop and David Dyzenhaus, and the guidance of committee members Profs. Richard Stacey and Galit A. Sarfaty.

He is interested in rethinking the unexplored possibilities offered by human rights law and politics to combat autocratic populism and enhance liberal democracy and the rule of law. His doctoral research examines the political role of human rights law and institutions in contexts of democratic erosion, as well as the challenges posed by new illiberal conceptions of international human rights law. The first part of the investigation studies how, while international human rights courts are typically focused on individuals and their concrete circumstances, they can also serve an essential function in confronting autocratic regimes. The second part focuses on understanding the nature of the contestation to human rights institutions from the viewpoint of frameworks that overcome simplistic explanations of the populist threat. In particular, it explores whether an ambiguously legal but authoritarian interpretation of human rights can seriously compete with the classical understanding of the same concept. The research engages with these questions as embodied in the confrontation between the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Venezuela. Specifically, it assesses a set of decisions delivered by the Inter-American Court against Venezuela that were rejected and contested by the Supreme Tribunal during the first two decades of this century. 

Julian has presented his work at the New Voices in International Law panel organized by the American Society of International Law (ASIL); the Global Scholars Academy held by the Harvard Law School Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP); Cornell Law School Inter-University Graduate Conference; the Emerging Voices panel during the International Law Weekend of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA); Sciences Po’s Intensive Doctoral Week; the Symposium International Law without International Courts, organized by ASIL’s International Courts and Tribunals Interest Group; and iCourt’s Ph.D. Summer School.

He holds an LL.M. from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar; an LL.M. in International Law from Universidad de La Sabana (Colombia); and received a Law degree (equivalent to an LL.B.) from Universidad del Rosario (Colombia). He has been assistant professor of international law, now on leave, at Universidad de La Sabana. He has also been a coach of La Sabana’s teams that participate in moot courts like the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and the ELSA Moot Court Competition on WTO Law.

S.J.D. Candidate, University of Toronto Faculty of Law (2019-present).
LL.M., Columbia University (2019).
LL.M. in International Law, Universidad de La Sabana (Colombia) (2016).
LL.B., Universidad del Rosario (Colombia) (2011).
Awards and Distinctions
Mary H. Beatty Fellowship, University of Toronto (2020).
Warren K. Winkler Graduate Fellowship in International Human Rights, University of Toronto Faculty of Law (2019).
Naomi Overend Fellowship in Human Rights, University of Toronto Faculty of Law (2019).
Houlden & Morawetz Graduate Scholarship, University of Toronto Faculty of Law (2019).
University of Toronto Fellowship (2019).
Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Columbia Law School (2019).
Parker School Recognition of Achievement in International and Comparative Law, Columbia Law School (2019).
Laureate Thesis Award – Summa cum laude, Universidad de La Sabana (2016).
Selected Publications

Print Publications in Journals and Law Reviews

  • Protecting Individual Rights to Counteract Democratic Backsliding: Human Rights Law as a Partial Response to Autocratic Populism116 Proceedings of the ASIL Annual Meeting 136 (2022).
  • Human Rights Promises Revisited: Kent Roach’s Exceptional Contribution to the Study of Judicial Remedies, 19 Journal of Law & Equality 30 (2022).
  • Diagnóstico Sobre las Relaciones entre el Derecho Internacional y el Derecho Interno. El Caso Colombiano (with Paola Acosta, Juana Acosta & Daniel Rivas), 16 Estudios Constitucionales (2018).
  • Caso Chaparro Álvarez vs. Ecuador. Un caso de arbitraje sui generis y delegación de jurisdicción en el SIDH (with Nicolás Córdoba), 6 Revista Iberoamericana de Derecho Internacional y de la Integración (2017).
  • Monismo moderado colombiano: examen a la teoría oficial de la Corte Constitucional desde la obra de Alfred Verdross, 132 Vniversitas (2016).

Book Chapters

  • Not so Moderate: The Relationship Between the Colombian Legal System and International Law (with Carlos Arevalo), in Alejandro Linares-Cantillo (ed.), Constitutionalism: Old Dilemmas, New Insights (Oxford University Press, 2021).

  • Integración Europea, una nueva dogmática jurídica y el salto hacia el constitucionalismo plural, in Juan Pablo Pampillo & Arturo Damián (eds.), Integraciones Jurídicas Americanas: teoría, historia, instituciones y derecho (Editorial Porrúa, 2017).

  • Teorías sobre la relación entre el derecho interno y el derecho internacional en la jurisprudencia constitucional colombiana (with Paola Acosta), in Juana Acosta, Paola Acosta, et al. (eds), De Anacronismos y Vaticinios: Diagnóstico sobre las Relaciones entre el Derecho Internacional y el Derecho Interno en Latinoamérica (Universidad Externado de Colombia, 2017).

  • De los modelos de desarrollo al derecho a la igualdad (with Juan Fernando Sánchez), in Rodríguez, Gloria & Vargas-Chaves, Iván (eds.), Políticas de igualdad e intereses colectivos: reflexiones y nuevos retos (Editorial Ibáñez, Universidad de Salamanca, 2014).


  • Sentiment as Blasphemy: On Gerry Simpson’s International Legal Garden, International Law Agendas (ILA-Brazil), July 2022 (Link here).

  • The Precarity of the People, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, June 2019 (Link here).
  • Assemblies, People and Democracy in 2019, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, June 2019 (Link here).
  • To Destitute the World, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, October 2018 (Link here).


Research Interests
Comparative Law
International Law
Judicial Decision-Making
Law and Globalization
Legal Theory
Committee Members