This conversation series invited judges from a wide range of jurisdictions, including national and supranational courts, to address questions about the separation of powers in the context of their own jurisdictions. Issues explored included the legal and political factors that determine the role of the judiciary, the relationship between the judiciary and other institutions, and the concept of judicial independence.

Discussants for this event were Octavio Ferraz (Reader in Transnational Law, Kings College London) and Sandra Fredman (Rhodes Professor of the Laws of the British Commonwealth and the United States, University of Oxford).

A video recording of Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa - "Colombia: a paradise of constitutional experimentalism?"

Colombia is often described as the most “stable electoral democracy” in Latin America.  It has held regular elections since the mid-19th century.  But this description might mask the fact that Colombia has been the site of armed conflict for more than fifty years.  There are several sources of this conflict, including the large drug cartels. 

In 1990, Colombia embarked upon an ambitious constitutional project, which drew participation not only from established political parties, but also from a largely urban guerrilla group, M-19, that had received amnesty for its acts of violence just before the constitution-making process began.  The Constituent Assembly was popularly elected, but in addition there was widespread civic participation in the constitution-making process. political changes could be achieved through democratic and peaceful means”.

One of the new institutions established under the 1991 Constitution was the Constitutional Court. The role of the Constitutional Court in this period has been extraordinary, compared to the role played by courts in other constitutional democracies. Manuel Jose Cepeda Espinosa has described Colombia as a “paradise of  constitutional experimentalism”.  In this conversation, the role of Colombia’s Constitutional Court under the 1991 Constitution will be explored.