Roberto Gargarella (University of Buenos Aires): The New Latin-American Constitutionalism: a too old constitutionalism?

In the first meeting of the International Dialogues in Constitutional Law series in 2017, on April 19, our guest was Roberto Gargarella, from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA).

In his lecture, Gargarella presented the reasons why, in his view, the new Latin American constitutionalism has not been able to respond effectively to contemporary challenges.

According to Gargarella, the main function of constitutionalism is to cope with the dramas of its time. The first constitutions of Latin America attempted to respond to the question of how to organize power.

The contemporary Latin American constitutions face a distinct challenge: the massive violations of human rights by the Latin American states. To this end, the adopted strategy has been the accumulation of declarations of rights, many of them with conflicting goals: classical liberal rights, social rights, transindividual rights and rights provided for in international human rights treaties.

One major problem with this strategy lies in the fact that it does not affect power structures, and this undermines the enforcement of rights.