Global Constitutionalism and Democracy: The Case of Colombia

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Focusing on the case of Colombia, this article sets out a sociological examination of constitutions marked by strong, activist judiciaries, by entrenched systems of human rights protection, and by emphatic implementation of global human rights law. Contra standard critiques of this constitutional model, it argues that such constitutions need to be seen as creating a new pattern of democracy, which is often distinctively adapted to structures in societies in which the typical patterns of legitimation and subject formation required for democratic government were obstructed. In polities with such constitutions, legal institutions and norm setters have at times assumed the status of functional equivalents for more typical democratically mandated actors and institutions. In such polities, further, global law assumes essential importance as it creates new sources of normative authorization for legislation and stimulates new lines of articulation between government and society. The article concludes that analysis of such polities, exemplified by Colombia, shows that the common categories of democratic-constitutional analysis are no longer always adequate for understanding current tendencies in democratic formation, and they can easily undermine democracy itself.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-183
Number of pages29
JournalJus Cogens
Early online date29 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020