Global Engagement Series - Democracy, Populism, and the Role of International Law in Latin America

Global Engagement Series

Cosponsored by the Latin America Interest Group

What role can international law play as Latin America struggles anew with challenges to democracy? In the past, the US played a pivotal role in the construction of a Latin American regional law (an outsized role which worked in favor but also at times in detriment of democratic governance in the region). Today, the US is firmly committed to democracy in the region. But China has displaced the United States as the top trading partner of South America, and has become the second largest trading partner for Latin America overall. Some argue Beijing’s new prominence contributes to the rise of authoritarianism, not because it exports authoritarian ideology but rather because aspiring authoritarians can find a friendly counterpart in China their own human rights abuses notwithstanding. In this new context, can international law still play a tempering role? Will the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Human Rights System be able to help stem the rise of authoritarianism? The panel features specialists on the OAS, and speakers on Brazil and Peru, two countries facing challenges to democratic governance, as well as Chile, which has chosen the path of constitutional reform over populism.


  • Cesar Landa (former Foreign Affairs and former President of Constitutional Court) on democratic breakdown in Peru
  • Ximena Fuentes, Chile's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Chile and constitutional renewal
  • Jean Michel Arrighi, OAS Secretary of Legal Affairs, on the role of regional organizations and the Inter-American Democratic Charter
  • Fabia Vecoso, Senior Fellow with the Transnational Law and Racial Justice Network (TLRJN), University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, Canada