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Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law: Lessons from Post-Menem Argentina

30 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006 Last revised: 27 Feb 2010

Christopher J. Walker

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

Argentina, like much of Latin America, has historically been plagued by what some call delegative democracy or a democracy without any developed rule of law. However, the Kirchner Administration has brought a glimmer of hope to the twentieth-first-century Argentine democracy. President NĂ©stor Kirchner was elected in 2003, after what was probably the most serious institutional, financial, and economic crisis in Argentina in recent times. When elected, Kirchner promised to address the perceived lack of independence of the Supreme Court and to restore the rule of law. This paper explains why Kirchner's efforts, without more, will not be enough to (re-)build the rule of law in Argentina.
Moreover, the Argentine case study provides several important lessons for those promoting the rule of law in developing countries. This paper focuses of three of those lessons. Lesson No. 1 involves contextualizing Kirchner's reforms, so that they can be evaluated within the particular institutions and local context that have shaped existing norms. Lesson No. 2 discusses why Kirchner's reforms are not enough to rebuild the rule of law and why a more diversified approach is needed. This Lesson also looks specifically at the role of state-building and the importance of combating corruption and restoring transparency to the political process. Lesson No. No. 3 emphasizes public trust and patience.

Keywords: judicial reform, rule of law, Argentina, Latin America, judicial independence, democracy

Suggested Citation

Walker, Christopher J., Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law: Lessons from Post-Menem Argentina (2007). Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas, vol. 14, pp. 89-118, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=922393

Christopher Jay Walker (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-292-2631 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/faculty/professor/christopher-j-walker/

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