New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



21 Boston University International Law Journal 259 (2003)


In 1870, Justo Arosemena published Constitutional Studies of the Governments of Latin America in France. Arosemena wanted to promote a constitutional harmonization of the Latin American legal orders. He thought a harmonization would make it easier for a citizen of a Latin American country to enjoy similar rights in any Latin American country. Once the Latin American harmonization was completed, Arosemena hoped that an integration of the American continent would be possible. A utopian ideal of a universal society nourished Arosemena’s work. He believed that in the future, humanity would be organized in small cities linked through morality, economy, culture, and science. No more a source of national identity, the state would guarantee fundamental rights to every person, irrespective of nationality. Yet, the realities of the 19th and 20th centuries challenged Arosemena’s vision. Readily dismissible as utopian, Constitutional Studies was forgotten. Still, there is a good reason for reexamining Constitutional Studies anew. Globalization, a third wave of increasing world integration, is bringing comparative constitutional law to the foreground. A reading of Constitutional Studies may contribute to thinking about the limits and possibilities of comparative constitutional law now. Indeed, Constitutional Studies is both an attempt to coordinate constitutional law to promote integration and an attempt to develop a transnational constitutional discourse. This study will show Arosemena’s main contribution to comparative constitutional law.

Date of Authorship for this Version

January 2006