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Rethinking international legal education in Latin America: exploring some obstacles of a hegemonic colonial academic model in Chile and Colombia


Paola Andrea Acosta-Alvarado, Amaya Alvez Marin, Laura Betancur-Restrepo,

Enrique Prieto-Rios, Daniel Rivas-Ramirez and Fabia Fernandes Carvalho Vecoso


During the international academic conference Decolonizing Law? Methods, Tactics and Strategies, held in Windsor University in April 2018,1 we discussed how colonialism and imperialism continue to have a direct impact on the existing economic, legal and intellectual relationships between the Global North and the Global South - specifically, how the law has served as an instrument to reinforce colonial and imperial practices, but also how to think on alternative methods, tactics, and strategies to decolonize law. In this chapter, we bring this discussion in the context of education2 and we focus on international law, analyzing the cases of Chile and Colombia.

Education is a powerful tool that can reinforce a certain collective conscience under the veil of neutrality,3 but it can also be used to question models and paradigms and propose alternative ways to explore various conceptions of decolonization. Following Antonio Gramsci's approach, we consider important to question whether legal education in the domain of international law in Latin

America follows (or not) a colonialist hegemonic model based on epistemological domination.4

This discussion is part of an ongoing research project called REDIAL (Rethinking International Legal Education in Latin America).5 REDIAL is a collaborative academic research project that brings together Latin American researchers interested in exploring the current stakes of international legal education in the region.6

Despite the great tradition of Latin American scholars present in international law, featuring well-known names such as Andres Bello, Carlos Calvo or Alejandro

  • 4 Gramsci’s theory advocates for the linkage between education systems and politics by understanding that education is one of the most important means in order to establish and sustain any ideology in power and in consequence, to strengthen ruling classes’ hegemonies. Thus, education (and the functional intellectuals) aims to develop and settle a certain collective conscience under the veil of neutrality.
  • 5 In Spanish: Repensar la Educacion del Derecho Internacional en America Latina. In Portuguese: Repensar a educayao em Direito Internacional na America Latina.
  • 6 This project emerged in 2014 in the context of the workshop held by the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School. As workshop participants from Latin America, we shared common concerns about teaching and research in international law in the region. These concerns were further explored and became our guiding questions in the project: How and what is taught in international law in Latin America today? Are there common Latin American elements? What aspects can we rethink to modify the way in which international law is taught in this region? Despite the fact that our intellectual networks and trajectories relate to our educational paths in Latin America, but also the North and West, REDIAL does not intend to reproduce a critical legal studies movement in Latin America. With REDIAL we seek to raise awareness of these biases in our own work, understand the influences that shape our approaches, but not to simply reproduce a pre-existing model in Latin America. Prior REDIAL publications include Paola Andrea Acosta-Alvarado, “REDIAL e Imperial- ismo у Derecho Internacional. Oportunidad para la reflexion” (2017) 39 Derecho del Estado 3; Amaya Alvez Marin & Arrnulf Becker Lorca, “Los Pueblos Originarios Y La Practica Del Derecho Internacional En Chile: Nuevos Horizontes Ante El Debilitamiento De Los Legados Del Autoritarismo” (2017) 39 Derecho del Estado 21; Laura Betancur-Restrepo & Enrique Prieto-RIos, “Educacion Del Derecho Internacional En Bogota: Un Primer Diagnostico A Partir Del Analisis De Los Programas De Clase Y Su Rclacion Con Las Epistemologias Del No Conocimiento” (2017) 39 Revista Derecho del Estado 53; Adriane Sanctis de Brito & Salem Hikmat Nasser, “Ensinar Direito Internacional No Brasil: Panorama De Una Practica E Seus Desaflos” (2017) 39 Derecho del Estado 119; Fabia Fernandes Carvalho Veyoso, “Historia E Critica Em Direito Internacional Na America Latina: Revisitando Discussoes Prctcritas Sobre Ensino Juridico Na Regiao” (2017) 39 Derecho del Estado 91; Jimena Sierra-Camargo, “La Importancia De Decolonizar La Ensenanza Del Derecho Internacional De Los Derechos Humanos: El Caso De La Consulta Previa En Colombia” (2017) 39 Derecho del Estado 137; Paola Andrea Acosta-Alvarado, Amaya Alvez Marin et al. “Rethinking International Legal Education in Latin America: Reflections toward a Global Dialogue” (August 30, 2019) 1 Twailr Reflections, ica-reflections-toward-a-global-dialogue/; and Paola Andrea Acosta-Alvarado, Amaya Alvez Marin et al. “La construccion de un dialogo sobre c6mo repensar la educacion en derecho internacional en America Latina” in Enrique Prieto-RIos, Paola Andrea Acosta-Alvarado & Daniel Rivas-Ramfrez, eds., Repensar la Educacion en Derecho Internacional en America Latina: Avarices у discusiones en 2019 (Bogota: Universidad del Rosario, 2020).

Alvarez,[1] the domestic education on international law in Latin America has been characterized for being dogmatic based on a reproduction of a Western approach.[2] In this regard it has been adopted in an uncritical way, almost as something natural or as a given, following a Eurocentric and formalistic approach. REDIAL intends to create awareness about the advantages and disadvantages of an orthodox and “Western-centric” approach to international law, which includes re-examining the colonial past embedded in the field but also interrogating ways and possibilities of transforming it in the present.

Our interest in international law is twofold. On the one hand, it is explained by the fact that all the members of the project are dedicated to international law; we teach and investigate this area of law. On the other hand, international law is of great importance in our region. Unlike what happens in other areas, in Latin America international law has direct effects, so that in recent decades it has determined the contours of the most basic aspects of the state and the daily life of individuals. This is why it is important for us to recognize the international legal reality as an intersubjective construction that implies the recognition of international law as a political space. Thus, the traditional approach in international law that distinguishes between a strictly legal area and the political context constitutes an analytical option that reduces the political space and depoliticizes the discipline. The idea of “neutrality” provides disciplinary sensitivities to the depoliticization of practice in international law, strengthening the idea of the “inevitability” of an international system defined according to liberal ideologies.

The mainstream view is a formalist-positivist cut centered on formal rules, claiming objectivity in the formation of a legal space with a disciplinarily approach that aims to be only technical. The main criticism is the parochial and pragmatic character of the way of understanding and studying international law in the region, with an emphasis on its operation, that has a limited reflection and no interdisciplinary. However, there is also a particular critical development that attempts to challenge granted approaches to international law.


This contribution aims at creating awareness and at opening spaces to rethink tlie practices of teaching and researching in international law in Latin America beyond the mainstream view in the field. With special attention to the current contexts of Chile and Colombia, the main objective is to interrogate the ways in which we can think on alternative methods, tactics and strategies to decolonize international legal education in the region.

The argument unfolds as follows. The next section will explore in more detail our ideas on what does it mean to put forward a critical Latin American thinking in international law. We then present the details of the current context of how international law is currently taught and researched in Chile and Colombia. To do this, we provide data on graduate legal education on international law in Chile and Colombia at the LLM level.[3] The chapter follows with a critical discussion on how to deal with a global system of publications from a Latin American perspective. For this, we reflect on the publication system required in global academia today and the burden we all face by the imposition of certain indexing system where Latin American academia is openly marginal. Based on the concrete Chilean and Colombian experiences, this contribution ends presenting ways forward to rethink international legal education in the region.

A paradigm shift toxvards critical and Latin American thinking

In order to be able to identify which are the main traits of the Latin American education model in international law, it is necessary to assess the state of the art of what the national markets have to offer. Thus, by studying and analyzing the different elements that determine education in international law in our countries, we will be able to show in more detail the formalist-positivist nature of our education in international law, and which ingredients we need to unlearn in order to be able to relearn those that will allow us to decolonize the discourses and histories taught in our region.

Interrogating, comparing and depicting legal education in Latin America does not constitute a new trend. In a study published in 1950 by the Journal of Legal Education, H. Claude Horack assessed 37 law schools from 16 Latin American countries.[4] This study was undertaken for the specific reason of supporting the Inter-American Bar Association’s views related to the positive aspects of the interchange of law students and law professors amongst the American countries.[5] Even considering the US-centric perspective of this study, Horack was able to notice long-lasting aspects of Latin American legal education:

Teaching is largely by the lecture method except in seminars and practice court work. ... All the schools have been influenced by the formal lecture methods of the continental law schools, particularly those of Spain, France, and Italy where until recent years many students and professors went for special or post-graduate study. Thus it is not unusual to find a lecturer who asks no questions of the students and permits no questions by them, but delivers a formal lecture that is mimeographed or printed and given out to the students. When this is not done a few students take shorthand notes of the lecture, which are then transcribed and given out to their fellows. In many schools this practice is encouraged.[6]

In Latin America, efforts directed at mapping and understanding legal education in our region are not a novelty either. Between 1959 and 1974, five international conferences put together representatives of Latin American law schools to exchange experiences regarding teaching law, a context described by one commentator as a process of modernization of law schools in Latin America.[7] The first of these Conferencias de Facultades у Escuelas Latinoamericanas de Derecho was held in Mexico City, in 1959. They were then convened in Lima (1961), Santiago de Chile (1963), Montevideo (1965) and Cordoba (1974). These meetings covered a broad range of topics. Among other issues, country reports depicting the status of legal education in various Latin American countries, teaching methods (with a strong critical view on the lecture method described by Horack above), and a call for a multidisciplinary approach to the study of law, including history, sociology', philosophy and politics, were all debated in these conferences.[8]

These examples illustrate the enduring character of the discussions on legal education in our region. However, endurance of these discussions does not mean that the Latin American context has been the same since the 1950s. According to recent publications, we keep on repeating past analysis on Latin American law, as “many of the old assumptions about Latin American legal institutions and culture continue to creep into contemporary scholarship and reform projects”.[9] This is due to the persistent influence of the law-and-development paradigm, especially the first wave of this scholarship and practice from the 1960s. In this setting, “such assumptions tend to depict Latin American legal fields as marked by large gaps between norms and practice, exacerbated legal pluralism, clientelistic legal cultures, and authoritarianism”.[10]

This traditional critique of Latin American law has problems.[11] This view is problematic because the context that we experience today in our region is completely different from the one experienced in the 1960s in geopolitical, social and legal terms.[11] More important, beyond the fact that the context is changing, this traditional critique of Latin American law is based on an imprecise comparison made against the Global North, a comparison that presupposes certain characteristics of the legal institutions of the North that do not exist today.[13]

This asymmetrical comparison between the North and the South is still influential in our context, as Latin American scholars keep articulating legal materials produced in the North without challenging the traditional critique of Latin American law mentioned above.[14] In this setting, what we have is “a perspective of analysis that reconstructs and reinforces Latin America’s place as a ‘reception context’ - of norms, theories and doctrines from ‘production contexts’ of the global North”.[15]

Furthermore, it is necessary to remember that the return of international law in the second half of the 20th century refers simultaneously to the recognition of its relevance and the opening of intense debates about the uses and meanings of the discipline.[16] Some consider that the renewal is rather a continuity in what constitutes a broader trajectory of the discipline.[17] In general terms, we can see the emergence of deep splits within the thinking of contemporary international law between three great visions: the legalist-pragmatic, the liberal-cosmopolitan and the critical approaches to international law - the first constituting the traditional core of the discipline, the second ascribing to the disciplinary renewal and the third opposing both currents in general.[18] Our project is ascribed to the critical side of international law.

This calls for new maps and critical approaches to rethink legal studies and practices in Latin America today to fully resonate with REDIAL’s main objectives related to opening spaces to decolonize international legal education in the region. Without merely reproducing past critiques to legal education in the region, we aim at producing a new engaged map of international legal education in Latin America. Studies on legal education in the region rarely choose international law as an important focus of analysis, even considering that international law plays an influential role in Latin America today, as illustrated by the role of the Inter-American System of Human Rights. Just to mention one example, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights developed international standards on transitional justice in its case law on domestic amnesties, asserting an indisputable duty to punish serious human rights violations related to contexts of regime change.[19] These standards have been playing a decisive role in the Colombian peace process, which showed the limits of the nation-state as the only source of human rights in Latin America today.[20] Other examples would include global economic regulations, transnational claims of migrants, transnational spaces of deliberation and transnational mobilization of indigenous groups.[21]

Arnulf Becker underlines how a regional project called “American International Law” in the first half of the 20th century allowed human rights to embody structural transformation based on a political ideology of regional solidarity rejecting a moral conception of human rights. For Becker, in Latin America human rights empowered states to adopt social and economic policies.[22] In the 1970s this was replaced by a new development paradigm centered on a market structure. This also affected the human rights movement. This is a call to reclaim particularities of the human rights movement in Latin America.

Furthermore, there is also an extensive literature on subaltern studies and decolonial approaches towards epistemologies and power. Some of the literature has focused on the relationship between settler state and indigenous peoples in many parts of the world.[23] From a Latin American perspective, the terms “coloniality” and “decolonial turn” have been used as theoretical tools to create awareness about the current political, institutional, socio-economic and cultural arrangements as direct consequence of past colonial arrangements.[24] This position argues that the world has not been Hilly decolonized, and as such the decolonial turn aims at re-signifying the importance of recognizing multiple epistemological, racial, economic and gender perspectives, among others, that challenge an Euro- and US-centric approach. Accordingly, “the history of modernity itself began with the violent encounter between Europe and America at the end of the fifteenth century”, and Latin America’s colonial relationship to Europe has had a prolonged duration, which has not completely ended.[25]

In this context, in the REDIAL project we have decided to advance a detailed assessment of the current status of international legal education in the region. In 2017, the Revista Derecho del Estado published a special issue on this topic that included different articles from REDIAL members.[26] The published papers included an exploration on the relationship between imperialism and international law, an analysis of the practice of international law in Chile in light of indigenous peoples, an assessment of international legal education in Bogota and a history of past discussions on legal education in the region in Latin America. In this chapter, we would like to build up from those reflections and deepen this path of analysis by assessing the main features of graduate programs on international law in Chile and Colombia. We also explore the publishing system established in these two countries in order to question whether there are tools to help us to decolonize international law in our contexts, or whether the practice that we analyze in this contribution is a reproduction of a colonialist and hegemonic model of education in international law. The next two sections of this contribution present the results of our research on graduate programs in international law and the publishing system in both Chile and Colombia.

Local postgraduate limited offer in international laxv

Amaral Palevi Gomez Arevalo stated that a colonial legacy might be identified in the Latin-American history of education. There are at least five main characteristics of this legacy: (1) the scholastic and the castellanization,[27] (2) the illustration influence, (3) the conception of education as a progress indicator, (4) the liberal myth about education as a solution for everything and (5) the irruption of neoliberalism as educative philosophy. [28]’' All of these factors are a consequence of a psychosocial and cultural dependence between our countries and the Global North as an inexplicable necessity to resemble them.

According to Enrique Dussel, the myth of modernity began in 1492 with the colonization of the Americas.[29] It was the beginning of the construction of a European imaginary of racial and intellectual superiority and the construction of the Other as intellectually and racially inferior. This imaginary construction materialized in the imposition of legal, social and economic structures as well as in the monopolization of knowledge and disciplines, creating situations of epistcmic superiority in different disciplines, including international law.

Historically, the first universities in Colombia and Chile were founded during colonial periods and by an initiative of the Dominican and Jesuit religious orders. The scenario of epistemic superiority created an aspirational academic framework in the periphery to become a copy of the civilized academy in the metropolis. As stated by Frantz Fanon: “The native intellectual accepted the cogency of these ideas, and deep down in his brain you could always find a vigilant sentinel ready to defend the Greco-Latin pedestal”.[30] One of the research questions we dealt with is if an aspirational academic framework in Colombia and Chile translated into a cult towards the academy and the intellectuals of the Global North. In the case of Colombia and Chile, this has led to the construction of an ideal of getting academic training in institutions of the Global North. There is a tradition of privileging studies abroad, mainly in universities in the United States or Europe.

And yet, legal education offered in these countries is not small. Colombia has more than 400,000 active lawyers, and there are 195 law schools and 147 master’s degree programs (MDPs) related to law.[31] Chile has a much smaller legal community, with 60,000 active lawyers and 141 law schools (which is the result of an aggressive privatization and commodification of legal education in Chile since the 1980s), with 75 MDPs related to law.[32] But if legal training has a strong tradition and roots, it is possible to say that legal academia is quite young. Traditionally law schools have been run by practitioners and not by full-time scholars, but this has begun to change incrementally with the hiring of more professors with doctoral training dedicated exclusively to teaching and research and with the creation and strengthening of graduate programs. In Chile this change happened in the last decade, and there is no official record of it.

Most of the scholars who started this academic wave were trained abroad. The youth of the legal academia in these countries and the short (or non-existent) offer of doctoral programs in law partly explain the need that existed for a long time to study abroad. This has also meant an important impetus for the internationalization of the Colombian and Chilean academia and has enriched the legal and cultural exchange. However, it may also have led to increase the cult towards foreign academia and the intellectual production of the Global North.[33]

Studying abroad is enriching and positive on many levels, but it is as important to have a strong and attractive offer of national graduate programs (and to assess them as equivalent to foreign programs). On the one hand, strong national graduate programs can be a tool to decolonize the law' and to emphasize and deepen on issues and needs specific to local and regional contexts, as well as to account for gaps, blind spots and epistemologies of ignorance that have traditionally been imported from other areas without major criticisms and that have ended up reproducing uncritical standards. On the other hand, in one of the

Table 5.1 Available information on MDP offered in Colombia and Chile (prepared by authors)

Universities That Offer MDPs in International Law in Colombia and Chile

Name of University

Type of Institution

Master’s Degrees


Escuela Superior de Guerra



Universidad Catolica de Colombia



Universidad de La Sabana



Universidad de los Andes



Universidad de Medellin



Universidad del Rosario



Universidad Externado de Colombia



Universidad Santo Tomas




Universidad de Chile



Universidad Diego Portales



Universidad San Sebastian



The MDP in international law at Universidad del Rosario has three emphases the student can choose: international criminal law and IHL, international economic law and critical studies.

Geographical distribution ofMDPs in international law in Colombia

Figure 5.1 Geographical distribution ofMDPs in international law in Colombia

Source: The authors, based on the ScimagoJR Ranking 2017, Scielo, Redalyc, DOAJ, Dialnet and Latinlndex databases.

with a Spanish law school, whose main topics are human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Iberoamerica.

In Chile, the ways of practicing the discipline of international law, for example through the offer of graduate studies, are functional to the characteristics of a Chilean political model that is understood mainly in terms of economic international insertion responding to power relations of the international system, and specifically to the hegemony of a neoliberal discourse. Therefore, many programs are focused on international law, commerce and investments.[34] There is also a relevant recent development of programs with main focus on human rights. The MDP in international economic law is offered in conjunction with a German university. Hence, most of its content focuses on European and German experiences.[35] Part of this international neoliberal model applies also for the offer

Geographical distribution of MDPs in international law in Chile Source. The authors, based on the Chilean National Ministry of Education database

Figure 5.2 Geographical distribution of MDPs in international law in Chile Source. The authors, based on the Chilean National Ministry of Education database.

of graduate programs. In Chile, universities of the Global North offer graduate programs mainly in international law in different modalities: online, partially online or even through institutional offices in the country. Information about this graduate program is presented as any other commodity.[36]

In Colombia, 50% of the MDPs propose a comprehensive study of international law, while most of the remaining programs focus on international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL). The emergence of MDPs focused on international human rights Law and IHL occurred after the enactment of domestic normative instruments that recognized the existence of the armed conflict and established different mechanisms for the victims’ reparation.[37] Interestingly, this could show a correspondence between programs offered and local needs, but it also suggests a limitation in the topics addressed in the international legal programs. This is probably because in Colombia, for a long time, the interest in international legal issues was limited to aspects related to the armed conflict (including the international obligations of Colombia that regulated the conflict, the struggle of the victims and the intervention of international institutions in this regard). There is a long Colombian tradition to equate studies in international law with human rights and IHL. In this sense, the first generalist master’s program on international law began to work only in 2010, since all the other previous postgraduate programs (different to MDPs) were limited to aspects of human rights and IHL.[38]

We must recognize that the international legal academia in Chile and Colombia is experiencing a growing process that has allowed the consolidation of MDPs specializing in international law. Naturally, in the first stages of this process scholars have been keen with introducing some basic notions of international law and entailing them with the local context and necessities. In that sense, we see how Colombia has historically privileged education in international human rights law and IHL, while Chile has favored international economic law and recently international human rights law (Figure 5.3).

This correspondence between education and local context might be positive but might also be problematic. Confining specialized education with certain topics restricts both scholars’ and practitioners’ perspectives, preventing them to perceive and study some other issues that are also important for the country. A good example of this is how in Colombia the issues related to international economic law and international investment law were rarely studied until a couple of years ago, even when they had serious and important effects not only to the national economy but also in human rights and environmental law.

Furthermore, from the contents studied in the existing MDP, there might also arise some problematic issues related to the understanding of international law. For instance, in the case of Chile MDPs, it is feasible to see how international

Chilean and Colombian MDPs in international law, according to their main emphasis

Figure 5.3 Chilean and Colombian MDPs in international law, according to their main emphasis

Source. The authors, based on the National System of Information of Higher Education of the Colombian National Ministry of Education database and Chilean National Ministry of Education.

economic law is taught from an orthodox perspective where it is understood as positive and necessary for development.

It is also important to recognize that MDPs in these countries incorporate a fragmented conception of international law due to the specialized lenses they have. In that sense, the study of topics as international human rights law and IHL is usually done without acknowledging other branches of international law that might be relevant for the local context, even within the frame of the Colombian armed conflict. In the Chilean case, the perspective is mainly focused on economic perspectives, equally fragmented. Regardless of whether this is conscious or unconscious, it contributes to reinforcing epistemologies of ignorance and promotes a limited conception of international law.

There is also a relevant common note between Chile’s and Colombia’s MDPs. In both cases, the specialized education in international law offered by the MDPs is limited to very few cities, normally located in the most important regions of each country. In part this implies that this type of education is concentrated in some “centers”, leaving the less important (in the national economy) areas in the “periphery”, replicating the colonialist formula of “inclusion-exclusion”. In addition, as a consequence of the highly inequitable social and economic conditions of the population in both countries, this t'pe of geographical limitation strengthens a knowledge gap and promotes the lack of interest and perceived relevance of international law in the regions.

In our opinion, the current state of the MDPs in international law in Chile and Colombia reproduces and maintains some characteristics of a hegemonic model of education in international law. The offered programs promote limited and biased conceptions of international law but also replicate a model of exclusion, which holds international law as an area for privileged minorities that have some resources that allow them to get to the MDPs. Nevertheless, we gladly recognize that there are some recent developments and some new proposals that intend to broaden the study in international law in order to present and teach a wider range of international law theories and perspectives. But on the concentrated offer in the main cities, there is still much to be done.

Continuing with those efforts, we firmly believe that education and the MDPs constitute an important tool to decolonization in our countries. The MDPs are the perfect scenario to promote and strengthen the ability to discern as well as to develop critical thinking in Chilean and Colombian scholars and practitioners of international law. It is only by promoting and developing strategies towards a wider and diverse education in international law that acknowledges the peripheral position that we occupied that we recover our historical particularities in the Latin American International Law Project.

Dealing xvith an imposed “global” system of publications

After reflecting on the dynamics of the MDPs on offer in international law, in this section we will reflect on the existing epistemological limitations derived from rankings and academic databases. Publications are means by which academics share questions, interests and research results. They should reflect the diversity within academia, be able to discuss global, regional and local needs, enrich and open new dialogues with peers, and serve as essential materials for the classroom.

Nowadays, publications are also an important mean to evaluate the performance of academics by institutions. This last aspect seeks in principle to guarantee the quality of the research and strengthen internationalization. To do this, universities and national institutes have tended to adopt standardized international rankings established by international index platforms such as ScimagoJR Ranking 2017 (Scopus), Web of Science (WOS) or Open Researcher and Contributor ID (OR.CID). These indexing systems use different indicators in order to determine the quality of the journal, the book series or the publishing house that is being evaluated. Other indicators used are the H Index, the level of international collaboration, the citation and the circulation of the publication.[39]

These international ranking systems have been broadly criticized, among other reasons, because they fail to take into consideration some factors as the asymmetries among the publications and the geopolitical influence that some countries might have. Nonetheless, in Colombia and in Chile, the National Ministries of


Education and the institutions in charge of the research policies - Departamento Administrative de Ciencia Tecnologia e Innovacion (Colciencias) and Comision Nacional de Investigacion Cientifica у Tecnologica (Conicyt), respectively - have replicated the same logic promoted by international databases such as Scopus, WOS or ORCID. In the case of Colombia, the platform used by Colciencias classifies scholars’ publications in five categories, based exclusively on the indexing system of the journal in which the article was published, which copies the Scopus classification.[40] In Chile, Conicyt has adopted an analogous logic by coupling with the WOS, Scopus and Scielo indexing databases.[41]

The public institution in charge of the certification process called Comision Nacional de Acreditacion (CNA) through a group of experts established a chart of academic scientific productivity in law in 2015. This group of experts established a minimum of 80 points to be a professor in a doctoral graduate program, 40 points for an research master’s degree and 20 points for a professional master’s degree. The list of activities to gain points rewards the highest to publish in a WOS journal (12 points) or with a prestigious international publisher (36 points) from a strict and selected list. In both cases, the scholar needs to publish in a foreign imperial language (English) and for a small elite audience.[42]

However, one of the problems of replicating these indexes without alteration lies in the small number of local journals that are indexed in those foreign databases. For instance, in Scopus there are 602 law journals worldwide and 25 in Latin America, but there only seven Colombian law journals[43] (all of them in the two lowest quartiles) and seven Chilean law journals (one of them in the first quartile, four in the second, one in the last, and one without classification).[44] Nevertheless, according to the collected information from several minor and Latin American databases (Latinlndcx, Scielo and Redalyc, among others), we find that there are at least 50 law journals in Colombia and 78 in Chile. It means

Index of legal journals in Chile and Colombia

Figure 5.4 Index of legal journals in Chile and Colombia

that more than 86% of Colombian specialized journals and more than 91% of Chilean law journals are not considered quality publications. Furthermore, there are only three specialized journals in international law (in each country),[45] but only one (the Anuario Colombiano de Derccho International) is indexed in the Scopus database and one in Scielo (Revista de Relaciones Internacionales, Estrate- giay Seguridad) (Figure 5.4).

As a result, Colombian and Chilean scholars need to target mainly foreign journals to publish their articles if they want to comply with the requirements of their institutions and national research agencies that, in the end, define their position and salary. Publishing abroad has without any doubt many advantages, as it allows broader academic dialogues and, in many cases, implies an effort for improving the quality of the publication. But besides the problems that any indexing system has, it is particularly problematic that the only indexes accepted are those in which Latin American academia is openly marginal.

It is important to consider that countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France and Canada have the highest numbers of journals indexed in the most important databases accepted by Chilean and Colombian research guidelines but also for the global academic market.[46] With this limited origin and scope of publications, Colombian and Chilean scholars are forced not only to publish in an alien language but also to address some specific audiences and discuss topics and debates that interest those contexts. This and leaves aside and makes invisible concrete political projects, including the aim to decolonize law. The imposition of English as the main language to publish in high-ranked publications makes it impossible to engage with traditionally excluded communities that do not read foreign languages (something not unimportant in contexts of high inequality such as Latin America). Inevitably, those publications (and rankings) have their own agendas that hinder the possibility to address topics only relevant to local and regional contexts but probably not attractive to those journals and epistemic centers. This situation must lead us to ask whether these barriers are silencing Colombian and Chilean (and more broadly, Latin American) voices and whether academics are entering into a race for citations in order to be valued in the national, regional and international contexts limiting academic freedom.

In addition to the above, there is an economic obstacle that is worth highlighting. Many of the indexed journals do not have any type of open access to the publications, and subscriptions tend to be too expensive for the local context, hampering the circulation of knowledge in these countries.[47] [48] For example, the subscription to the European Journal of International Law (published by Oxford and which includes online access to only four issues) costs USS430,3S almost 1.7 times the minimum wage in Colombia and almost equal to the Chilean one. This is relevant because publishing in journals and databases is so expensive and in languages that are not accessible to a big part of the population, limiting more equitable dialogues that involve a larger scope of scholars and students in the region.

If part of our project includes strengthening local and regional academia, including epistemic issues left aside by mainstream scholarship and proposing an alternative and decolonial vision of international law, we have to find a way to engage in conversations with local and regional peers traditionally disregarded and make an effort to help circulate knowledge among countries within the South.[49]


The growing but still limited offer of MDPs in Chile and Colombia has the potential to be a tool of decoloniality, of inclusion and of expanding the visions of international law in accordance with national and regional contexts. It may also be the opposite: a tool for reproducing traditional standards and epistemic blind spots and strengthening hierarchies. We have seen that the topics of most MDPs are limited but also that there are some recent examples in Colombia and Chile that begin to change and expand the traditional view of international law. We have also seen that there is still much to be done in terms of centralizing knowledge and including regions in the national academic offer.

On the other hand, the literature published and used is another crucial issue. It is important to strengthen the publication processes in a rigorous way but without having to ignore most publications in the region and be forced to publish only in English. Reproducing foreign indexes and rankings in an uncritical manner as if they were objective and consistent with all the contexts is problematic and can have very negative consequences: instead of strengthening regional academia, it can weaken local production and limit the selection of topics and alternative publications relevant for local needs.

Finally, we must account for the voices and the problems of the region. Knowing ourselves, reading us, studying us and criticizing us are the main tasks in this decolonial effort. In this sense, our project advocates the need to be aware of what we do and from there to assume the role of an academic activist under which we seek to account for what should be the law, not only in terms of its validity but also of its correction in light of the standards of justice.

Part 2

  • [1] See Liliana Obregon Tarazona, “Latin American International Law” in David Armstronged., Routledge Handbook of International Law (New York: Routledge, 2009) 154; ArnulfBecker Lorca, “International Law in Latin America or Latin American International Law?Rise, Fall, and Retrieval of a Tradition of Legal Thinking and Political Imagination” (2006)47:1 Han' Inti LJ 283, and Jorge Esquirol, “Alejandro Alvarez’s Latin American Law: AQuestion of Identity” (2006) 19:4 Leiden ] Inti 1.931.
  • [2] It is important to note that this is common not only with the teaching of international lawbut also in other areas of law, as highlighted in an article titled “The Current State of LegalEducation Reform in Latin America: A Critical Appraisal” written by Juny Montoya, (2010)59:4 / Leg Educ 545. In the same vein Professor Jorge Esquirol points out that legal education in the region has also been influenced by the Western developmental agendas of the1960s and ’70s.
  • [3] In this piece we explore LLM programs in Chile and Colombia as previous REDIAL studieshave focused on undergraduate programs in law, and these type of diagnoses and comparisons of programs and syllabuses are a path that interest us. For a study on the syllabus ofinternational law courses at the undergraduate level, see Betancur-Restrepo & Prieto-Rios,supra note 7 at 69.
  • [4] H. Claude Horack, “Legal Education in the Latin-American Republics” (1950) 2 / Leg Ed нс287.
  • [5] American Bar Association, “1949 Proceedings of Section of International Law and Comparative Law. Part V, General Committee Reports” (1949) 5 Horack Survey of Latin AmericanLaw Schools 183 at 186-187.
  • [6] Horack, supra note 12 at 288.
  • [7] Hector Fix-Zamudio, “Algunas Reflexiones Sobre La Ensenanza Del Derecho En MexicoY Latinoamerica” in Jorge Witker, ed., Antologia De Estudios Sobre Ensenanza Del Derecho(Mexico City: UNAM, 1995) at 72.
  • [8] For a more detailed analysis of the five Conferences of Latin American Law Schools heldbetween 1959 and 1974, see Vtyoso, supra note 7.
  • [9] Cesar Rodriguez-Garavito, “Remapping Law and Society' in Latin America: Visions and Topics for a New Legal Cartography” in CCsar Rodriguez-Garavito, ed., Law and Society in LatinAmerica: A Hew Map (New York: Routledge, 2015) at 1.
  • [10] Ibid, at 2.
  • [11] Ibid.
  • [12] Ibid.
  • [13] “In the meantime, in the midst of the economic crisis in Europe and the United States,unleashed by deregulation and austerity policies since 2008, the legal institutions of theGlobal North show many features that, according to law and development, characterizeLatin America. The growing socioeconomic inequality in the North has led to small eliteshaving a disproportionate and excessive amount of influence regarding the substance of laws;the precarious economy has created a steep rise in the informal sector and in legal pluralism;and the xenophobic reactions against immigration and the war against terrorism have givenway to criminal laws and legal decisions typical of authoritarian regimes.” Ibid.
  • [14] Ibid, at 3-4.
  • [15] Ibid, at 4.
  • [16] Alvez Marin & Becker Lorca, supra note 7.
  • [17] David Kennedy, “My Talk at the ASIL: What Is New Thinking in International Law? InProceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law)” (2000) 94Soc’y Int’l I. 104.
  • [18] Gerry Simpson, “The Situation on The International Legal Theory Front: The Power ofRules And The Rule Of Power” (2000) 11:2 Em] Inti 1.439.
  • [19] For more on the “Inter-American view on amnesty”, see Fabia Fernandes Carvalho Veyoso,“The Inter-American View on Amnesties: Human Rights Absolutism?” (2015) 35 RevistaDerecho Del Estado 3; Fabia Fernandes Carvalho Veyoso. “Whose Excepdonalism? Debating the Inter-American View on Amnesty and the Brazilian Case” in Karen Engle ZinaidaMiller Sc Dennis Davis, eds., Anti-Impunity and the Human Rights Agenda (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2016) at 185.
  • [20] On different relations between international law and the Colombian Peace Process, see LauraBetancur-Restrepo, “The Legal Status of the Colombian Peace Agreement” (2016) 110AJIL Unbound 188; Juana Acosta-L6pez, “The Inter-American Human Rights System andthe Colombian Peace: Redefining the Fight Against Impunity” (2016) 110 AJIL Unbound178; Nelson Camilo Sanchez, “Could the Colombian Peace Accord Trigger an ICC Investigation on Colombia?” (2016) 110 AJIL Unbound 172, among others.
  • [21] Rodrlguez-Garavito, supra note 17 at 16-17.
  • [22] Arnulf Becker Lorca, “Human Rights in International Law? The Forgotten Origins ofHuman Rights in Latin America” (2017) 67:4 UTLJ465.
  • [23] Eve Tuck & K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor” (2012) 1:1 Decolonisation: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1; Tshepo Madlingozi, “On Settler Colonialismand Post-Conquest Constitutions: The Decolonising Constitutional Vision of AfricanNationalists of Azania/South Africa” (2019) [Draft],
  • [24] See, among others, Anlbal Quijano, “Modernity, Identity, and Utopia in Latin America”(1993) 20:3 Boundary 2 140; Santiago Castro-G6mez & Ramon Grosfoguel, El GiroDecolonial Reflexiones Para Una Divcrsidad Epistimica Mas Alla Del Capitalismo Global(Bogota: Siglo del Hombre Editores, 2007); Ada Marfa Isasi-Dfaz & Eduardo Mendieta,Decolonising Epistemologies: Latina/o Theology and Philosophy (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012); Enrique Dussel, 1492 El Encubrimiento del Otro: Hacia el Origen delMito de la Modernidad (La Paz: Plural Editores - Facultad de Humanidades у Ciencias de laEducacion - UMSA, 1994) at 19 and 74; Enrique Prieto-Rios & Kojo Koram, “Decolonising Epistemologies, Politicising Rights: An Interview with Eduardo Mendiet” (2015) 3:1Bitkbeck Law Review 13; Nelson Maldonado-Torres, “Thinking through the DecolonialTurn: Post-Continental Interventions in Theory, Philosophy, and Critique: An Introduction” (2011) Transmodernity 1.
  • [25] Anfbal Quijano, “Modernity, Identity, and Utopia in Latin America” (1993) 20:3 Boundary2 at 140.
  • [26] The special issue is Hilly available as “Educacion у derecho international: Retlexiones aproposito de la publication de Imperialism) у derecho international (2017) Revista Derechodel Estado 39, 3-186, online: .
  • [27] By castellanization we refer to the process that took place during the colonization of LatinAmerica in which the Spanish cultural, social and economic standards were imposed to theindigenous communities. These transformations gravely affected the original and ancestraltraditions and manners that the original and indigenous peoples had. According to G6mezArevalo, in terms of education, castellanization refers to the treatment given to the indigenous peoples, the mestizos and the afro descendants by forbidding and preventing themfrom any understanding further than a rudimentary reading and the imposed catechism inSpanish [Our own translation].
  • [28] Amaral Palevi G6mez Arevalo, “Ideas Y Pensamientos Educativos En America Latina: De LaEscolastica Colonial Al Posneoliberalismo Educativo” (2010) 11:2 Revista Latinoamericanade Esmdios Educativos 115 at 117.
  • [29] Dussel, supra note 32 at 19 and 74 [our own translation].
  • [30] Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (New York: Grove Press, 1967) at 37-38.
  • [31] According to the Ministry of National Education, in Colombia there are 4,349,823 peopleeligible to enroll in higher education programs, out of a total of 48,203,405 inhabitants.Of these, 550,462 are enrolled in undergraduate courses (54,203 in law programs) in thecountry and 21,214 in master’s degrees. Ministerio de Educacion Nacional, “CompendioEstadistico de Educacion Superior” (2016), online: Ministerio de Educacion Nacional .
  • [32] Data information obtained from crossing the Supreme Court database and the ChileanNational Ministry of Education. Chilean National Ministry of Education, “Higher Education Institutions’ Directory” (April 2018) Chilean National Ministry of Education, online:.
  • [33] For instance, see the influence in the diagnose of the bibliography proposed in internationallatv syllabi in Bogota (at undergraduate level), in Betancur-Restrepo & Prieto-Rios, supranote 7 at 69-72.
  • [34] MDP in conjunction with Heidelberg University and another with a focus on arbitration.Information available at Comisidn Nacional de Acreditacion website. Comision Nacional deAcreditacion, “Btisqueda Avanzada de Acreditaciones” Comisidn Nacional de Acreditacion,online: .
  • [35] It is the case of the courses about Chilean cases before the WTO, economic integration inLatin America and international arbitration in Chile.
  • [36] One example is Educaedu Chile, “19 Masters у Cursos de Derecho International en Chile”Ecincacdu Chile, online: .
  • [37] The first MDP on international human rights law and international humanitarian law wasoffered in 2013. For 2017 the offer increased to four MDP focused on these topics.
  • [38] In Colombia there is an important tradition of offering graduate programs called “specializations” (which are a degree superior to the undergraduate but lower than the master’sdegree). With the tendency to professionalize the legal academia and to unify criteria betweeninternational and national diplomas, MDPs on offer have increased (and many former specializations have become MDP). In this sense, the offer of specializations in international lawfor a long time was dominated to programs on human rights and IHL. The first specialization in human rights and IHL was offered in 1999. Nowadays, there is still an offer of morethan 16 specializations limited to these topics.
  • [39] “Help” Scimago Journal & Country Rank, online: .
  • [40] Colciencias, “Manual del Aplicativo CvLAC: Curriculum Vitae para I.atinoamcrica у elCaribe” (2016) Colciencias, online (pdf): .
  • [41] Conicyt,“ScieloChile IncorporaCincoNuevasRevistasASuColeccidn” (6 June2016) Conicyt,online: .
  • [42] Comisidn Nacional de Acreditaci6n de Postgrado, “Orientaciones Sobre Productividad PorComites De Area” Comision Nacional de Acreditacion de Postgrado, online (pdf): .
  • [43] Anuario Colombiano de Derecho Internacional, Universitas, Juridicas, Revista de DerechoPrivado, Revista Derecho del Estado, Revista Criminalidad and Revista Republicana.
  • [44] Revista Chilena de Derecho, PoHtica Criminal, Revista de Derecho, Estudios Constituciona-les, Ius et Praxis, Revista de Estudios Historico-Juridicos and Revista Chilena de Derecho уTecnologia.
  • [45] In Colombia, Anuario Colombiano de Derecho International, Revista de Relaciones Internacionales, Estrategia у Seguridad and Perspectivas Internacionales. A few years ago therewas also the “International Law-Revista Colombiana de Derecho Internacional” that recentlydisappeared. In Chile they are Boletln Nexos, Revista de Estudios de la justieia and Tratadosde Chile.
  • [46] ScimagoJR, “Ranking 2017, Country Rankings” ScimajjoJR, online: .
  • [47] Open access has also been criticized for its dangerous effects in poor countries. Brenda Wingfield & Bob Millar, “How the Open Access Model Hurts Academics in Poorer Countries” (17April 2019) University Affairs, online: .
  • [48] Prices and fees according to the European Journal of International Law web page. EuropeanJournal of International Law, “Purchase” Oxford Academic, online:
  • [49] There are some interesting efforts in this regard, such as the creation of the Third WorldApproaches to International Law Review (TWAILR).
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