Reports from the SAJC

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The complete report in Spanish [PDF]

A summary in English [PDF]

Brandeis Takes its Judicial Colloquium Program to South America


Judge René Blattmann of the International Criminal Court gives a presentation on the groundbreaking work of his court.

November 4-7, 2009

In November, 2009, the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University, in collaboration with the International Judicial Academy, concluded the fourth in its ongoing series of judicial colloquia, organized since 2006 in different regions of the world.

The session, “The Value of International Law for National Legal Systems” ("El Valor del Derecho Internacional respecto de los Sistemas Legales Nacionales"), took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina from November 4-7, 2009.

Twenty judges attended from eight South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. The aim of the Brandeis judicial colloquia program is to bring together domestic judges and their counterparts from the international sphere to discuss the increasing interconnections that exist between domestic and international law. (See the full list of participants below.)

The South American Judicial Colloquium (SAJC) was funded by a generous grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

The SAJC held its opening ceremony on the historic premises of the Stock Exchange (Bolso de Comercio) of Buenos Aires, presided by Dr. Ricardo Lirosi, judge of the Court of Appeals of Buenos Aires and Vice-President of the International Judicial Academy. The other principal organizer of the colloquium, Dr. Leigh Swigart of Brandeis University, welcomed participants and described how pleased her institution was to hold its first judicial colloquium in South America.

These remarks were followed by the keynote address, delivered by Judge Elena Highton, Vice-President of the Supreme Court of Argentina, who focused on how Argentine courts have dealt with international law and treaties in recent years. 

The following day, the colloquium program commenced with a presentation by Dr. James Apple, President of the International Judicial Academy, on the theme “Using International Law and its Role in National Legal Systems.” Leigh Swigart spoke next about her research and publications on international judges and the institutions in which they serve, providing context for later discussions of the international courts that have an impact on the countries represented at the colloquium.

South American judges had the opportunity to learn directly of the everyday experiences of an international judge in the afternoon, when René Blattmann of the International Criminal Court spoke of the challenges and successes of the early years of his institution as well as its ongoing historic first trial.

The first day ended with a provocative presentation by Dr. Alberto Garay on the theme “Problems Related to the Effects of the Decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.”

The second day continued with a diverse selection of themes related to the application of international law in domestic contexts. Dr. Maria Elsa Uzal spoke on the timely topic of “Insolvency in International Law.” The participants who work in courts dealing with family issues were particularly interested in the following session, led by Dr. María Suzan Najurieta, on “International Cooperation in the Recovery of Children.”

The role of forensic anthropology in the investigation and prosecution of human rights violations and crimes against humanity was powerfully described that afternoon by Dr. Mercedes Salado Puerto. A member of the renowned organization El Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense (EAAF), Dr. Salado spoke of EAAF’s strategy of working with judicial systems and police forces, as well as with the families of survivors, when recovering and identifying the bodies of individuals who are suspected of having been “disappeared” or killed by state forces.

The day ended with an eloquent presentation by Dr. Rolando Gialdino on “International Treaties and Human Rights,” using many Argentine cases to illustrate his remarks.

On the morning of the third day, Dr. Gustavo Bossert, a local legal scholar of great international renown, delivered the final formal presentation of the colloquium. He spoke to participants about non-discrimination toward homosexuals and transsexuals, a notion that is less familiar on the South American continent than in the United States or Europe.

Judges from the eight countries represented at the colloquium then had the opportunity to share their views on the “state of human rights” in their respective countries. The number of challenges outlined by participants – be they threats to judicial independence, budgetary problems, or difficulties in applying the international conventions and treaties that their governments have signed and ratified – underscored the importance of having individuals of integrity and courage in South American judiciaries.

The organizers of the colloquium came away from the event feeling confidence in the ability of participants to establish the rule of law in their countries and to collaborate with their colleagues, both national and international, in implementing international and human rights law on the South American continent.

A full report on the proceedings of the SAJC is available in Spanish, and a summary is available in English (see sidebar). Reports on earlier Brandeis Judicial Colloquia - from West Africa and North America - may be downloaded here.


Judicial Symposium Participants


  • Patricia E. Castro, Juez de la Cámara Nacional de Apelaciones en lo Civil, Sala I.
  • Graciela Adriana Varela, Juez Nacional de Primera Instancia en lo Civil con competencia exclusiva en cuestiones de Familia a cargo del Juzgado n° 87.
  • Maria Isabel Benavente, Juez Nacional de primera instancia en lo Civil.
  • Emilio Vazquez Viera, abogado, Decano de la Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas de la Universidad de Mendoza.


  • Beatriz Alcira Sandoval Bascopé, Ministra en ejercicio de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de Bolivia.
  • Luis Enrique Vargas Lemaitre, Secretario General de la Presidencia de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de Bolivia.


  • Mauricio Olave Astorga, Juez de Juicio Oral en lo Penal en el 4° Tribunal Oral de Santiago.
  • Mariela Jorquera Torres, Juez Oral en lo Penal de Santiago.
  • Luis Francisco Aviles Mellado, Juez de Garantía en la ciudad de Santiago.


  • Patricia Jacquelin Feria Bello, Fiscal en comisión ante la vicefiscalía General de la Nación.
  • Patricia Hernandez Zambrano, Fiscal de la Unidad de Justicia y Paz de la Fiscalía General de la Nación con sede en Medellín (A).


  • Pablo Efrain Vintimilla Gonzalez, Presidente titular de la Corte Provincial de Justicia del Azuay.
  • Paulina Aquirre Suarez, Ministra Primera Sala Laboral Niñez y Adolescencia; Corte Superior de Quito.


  • Maria Sol Zuccolillo De Vouga, Miembro del Tribunal de Apelación en lo Civil y Comercial, cargo que actualmente ocupa.-
  • Maria Del Carmen Zuccolillo De Montero, Agente Fiscal en lo Laboral.
  • Valentina Nuñez Gonzalez, Miembro del Tribunal de Apelación en lo Civil y Comercial Primera Sala de la Capital.


  • Josefa Izaga Pellegrin, Juez Superior en la Corte Superior de Justicia de Lima.
  • Elvira Maria Alvarez Alazabal, Jueza Superior de la Corte de Justicia de Lima.


  • Maria Cristina Crespo Haro, Magistrada fuero Civil de Montevideo.
  • Estela Mari Jubette Pesce, Juez Letrada de Primera Instancia en lo Civil  de 18º turno en Montevideo, Uruguay.


  • James Apple, Presidente de la Academia Judicial Internacional.
  • René Blattmann, Juez de la Corte Penal Internacional.
  • Gustavo Alberto Bossert, antiguo Ministro de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación Argentina; Profesor Titular Consulto, Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires. Profesor Invitado de la Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II, desde 1993 hasta 2004.
  • Alberto Fernando Garay, Abogado, Profesor de la Escuela de Derecho Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
  • Rolando Gialdino, Secretario Letrado de la Corte Suprema de la Nación Argentina.
  • Elena Ines Highton, Ministro de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación Argentina.
  • María Susana Najurieta, Juez de la Cámara Nacional de Apelaciones en lo Civil y Comercial Federal de Buenos Aires.
  • Mercedes Salado Puerto, Antropóloga e Integrante del Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense.
  • Leigh Swigart, Directora de Programas de Justicia Internacional y  Sociedad en el Centro Internacional de Ética,  Justicia y Vida Pública de la Universidad de Brandeis.
  • Maria Elsa Uzal, Juez de la Cámara Nacional de Apelaciones en lo Comercial de la República Argentina.

Ricardo Lirosi and Leigh Swigart, principal organizers of the South American Judicial Colloquium.

Participating Judges.jpg

Participating judges from Chile, Ecuador and Peru in the Plaza de la República in Buenos Aires.