Vance Center Produces Assessments of Judicial Independence in 4 Latin American Countries

September 2023

As part of its initiative to support judicial associations in Latin America, the Vance Center, along with regional and local partners, recently published assessments on the state of judicial independence in four Latin American countries.

Over the last two months, the Vance Center, in coordination with the Latin American Federation of Judges (FLAM) and local judges’ associations, produced country-specific assessments of judicial independence in Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia, building on a series that kicked off with the first assessment, of Bolivia, in March 2023. In a parallel series of virtual events to launch the assessments for each country, judges and experts have discussed the main conclusions, as well as ideas on how to confront attacks and address institutional challenges. 

Each assessment includes a basic outline of the legal and institutional framework that establishes rules for key issues related to how the judiciary operates in each country, and an analysis of the main threats to judicial independence. These challenges include rules for selecting and appointing judges; procedural aspects like evaluations, promotions, transfers, and removals; budget and compensation; physical and legal security; diversity in the sector; and corruption related to the judiciary.  

The Vance Center and its partners plan to update these assessments regularly, with the hope that judges can continue relying on them for advocacy and efforts to defend judicial independence. The documents are intentionally short and use relatively simple language, enabling a more diverse audience, including individuals who do not have legal backgrounds or are not familiar with a particular country, to access them and gain a better understanding of the state of and challenges for judicial independence in each country.  

This approach has already helped the analyses reach a wider audience, as the assessment launch events – and the conclusions of the assessments themselves – have been featured in local media outlets in the respective countries, with especially significant coverage in Argentina and Mexico.  

The assessments were produced with the pro bono support of local counsel through the clearinghouse members of the Pro Bono Network of the Americas, along with invaluable input from judges in the relevant countries, and with support from the Tinker Foundation.  

This project will continue in the coming months, with assessments of Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Paraguay planned for publication. 

Watch the launch events for Uruguay, Argentina, and Mexico below: