Constitutionalism in the Americas
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Constitutionalism in the Americas

Edited by Colin Crawford and Daniel Bonilla Maldonado

Constitutionalism in the Americas unites the work of leading scholars of constitutional law, comparative law and Latin American and U.S. constitutional law to provide a critical and provocative look at the state of constitutional law across the Americas today. The diverse chapters employ a variety of methodologies – empirical, historical, philosophical and textual analysis – in the effort to provide a comprehensive look at a generation of constitutional change across two continents.
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Chapter 5: Back to the future? The return of sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of the states in Latin America’s “radical constitutionalism”

Javier Couso


This chapter concentrates on the radical democracies of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Couso’s argument revolves around three axes. First, he argues that one of the innovative elements of Latin American constitutionalism has been its receptiveness to international human rights law and its commitment to the Inter-American Human Rights System. Second, he indicates that one of the characteristics of radical constitutionalism has been its staunch defense of the principle of national sovereignty. Finally, he states that the defense of national sovereignty has gone hand-in-hand with a constant defense of two principles of international law: the principle of self-determination of peoples and the principle of non-intervention. Couso then argues that the defense of these three principles has ended up pitting radical constitutionalsim against international human rights law. Finally, Couso argues that the illiberal turn taken by U.S. constitutionalism, demonstrated by the violations of due process in the Guantanamo prison, selective assassinations, and the practice of torture, has facilitated the questioning of the Inter-American Human Rights system by radical constitutionalism.

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