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24 Case W. Res. J. Int'l L. 139 (1992)
The 1991 Constitutional Reform: Prospects for Democracy and the Rule of Law in Colombia

handle is hein.journals/cwrint24 and id is 145 raw text is: The 1991 Constitutional Reform: Prospects for Democracy and
the Rule of Law in Colombia
Donald T Fox* and Anne Stetson**
On July 4, 1991, after five months of deliberation, the delegates' to the
Colombian Constitutional Assembly (the Constituyente or the As-
sembly) fulfilled their mandate to reform the country's Constitution of
1886. The new Charter was inaugurated with the full endorsement of the
President of the Republic, C6sar Gaviria Trujillo.2 The aims of this con-
stitutional reform were to endow the country with modem democratic
institutions designed to foster greater participation in the democratic
process, to strengthen the rule of law in a country where the proliferation
of political violence had corroded Colombian political and legal institu-
tions, and to secure a firm ground for human rights with mechanisms to
protect these rights.
The new Charter adopted a number of methods to facilitate the res-
toration of democracy and peace to Colombia. First, the participation of
a wider range of political parties in the traditional parliamentary democ-
racy is called for and citizens from the full spectrum of Colombian soci-
ety are assured the right to vote freely for a wider range of officials.
Second, the new Constitution establishes a more equitable balance of
power among the three governmental branches by trimming certain pow-
ers from the formerly dominant executive branch in favor of vesting the
legislative and the judicial branches with greater authority. Finally, a
full human rights agenda is articulated and institutions are established
specifically to protect these rights.
* Donald T. Fox, Esq., of the firm of Fox & Horan, is Chairman of the Board of Directors of
the American Association for the International Commission of Jurists. He has conducted missions
for the I.C.J. in several Latin American countries and authored reports on Nicaragua, El Salvador,
Guatemala and Colombia. He is also an author of Human Rights & Foreign Policy and Hungarian
Constitutional Reform and the Rule of Law.
** Anne Stetson, Esq., is a member of the New York bar.
I These delegates were chosen through direct elections pursuant to a national referendum.
2 Speaking at the Constitution's inauguration ceremony at the Assembly, President Gaviria
described the document as a peace treaty among Colombians. Message by the President of the
Republic, C~sar Gaviria Trujillo, On the Occasion of Adjourning the Sessions of the National Con-
stituent Assembly, 14 (July 4, 1991) (Eng. trans.) (on file with the Case Western Reserve Journal of
International Law).

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