Reforming institutions in Latin America. Can courts help?
There is a mismatch between ambitious constitutional commitments and weak state capacity in Latin America. The inability of administrations to discharge their duties is at the core of current distrust towards democracies. The Judiciary has tried to address the mismatch. Robust recognition of rights and mechanisms for their judicial protection characteristic of Latin American constitutions enable courts to engage in institutional change. Courts can facilitate capacity building by bringing attention, trust, and resources to an institution. But there are risks in courts assuming roles that they are not fit to perform. The panel presents examples from 5 countries that illustrate challenges faced by governments to meet their goals efficiently. Papers discuss cases and examine implications of judicial interventions for separation of powers and democracy. They present possible models to address critiques to judicial “activism“ and reform alternatives that do not rely on courts.