The end of the twentieth century was marked by optimism for the stability and effectiveness of the constitutional systems of the nations in Latin America. The authoritarian regimes of the 1970s and 80s had been replaced by constitutions based on well-functioning institutions, respect for individual and social rights, compliance with the rule of law, and a general commitment to the principles of advanced constitutionalism.

Over the last decade, however, matters have taken a very different turn for the worse. The resurgence of political conflict, the growth in violence, widespread disaffection and discontent, authoritarian discourses, and a deep economic crisis have all contributed to the undermining of the established constitutional orders in many of the continent’s nations.

Constitutional texts are being redrafted to serve short-term political objectives; respect for rights has declined; and the institutions of government, particularly the executive and the judiciary, compete for power.

The aim of this workshop is to examine these issues, to assess their causes, and to chart the consequences for the constitutional systems concerned. The participants are drawn from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including law, sociology, political science, and economics. The workshop will focus on a series of case studies of several key countries: Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela.

The workshop forms part of a wider enquiry into the success and failure of constitutions. Why do some succeed; why do others fail?