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4 - Gender Equality and International Human Rights in Costa Rican Constitutional Jurisprudence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2010

Alda Facio
Affiliation:
Jurist, Writer, and International expert on gender and women's human rights
Rodrigo Jiménez Sandoval
Affiliation:
Costa Rican lawyer and consultant, specializing in the rights of people with disabilities and women's rights
Martha I. Morgan
Affiliation:
Robert S. Vance Professor of Law, University of Alabama School of Law
Beverley Baines
Affiliation:
Queen's University, Ontario
Ruth Rubio-Marin
Affiliation:
Universidad de Sevilla
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Summary

On the farm “La Lucha” (The Struggle), in the central mountain range of Costa Rica, on March 12, 1948, José Figueres Ferrer took up arms against the government of Teodoro Picado. The Civil War had begun. This struggle shortly brought about dramatic changes in the constitutional order. On May 8, the victorious José Figueres, President of the Governing Junta, declared the Constitution of 1871 to be without force or effect (except for its chapters on social, national, and individual guarantees) and called a Constituent Assembly. Less than a year later, a new Constitution was approved, which made fundamental changes in the structure of government and the relationships between its inhabitants — changes that have had profound significance in the evolution of the country's long-standing constitutional acknowledgment of the equality of all Costa Ricans. This chapter will examine the 1949 Constitution, as amended, with respect to gender equality and Costa Rica's emerging constitutional gender jurisprudence, with particular emphasis on its incorporation of international human rights gender equality norms.

After gaining its independence from Spain in 1821, Costa Rica had seven prior Constitutions — adopted in 1821, 1844, 1847, 1848, 1859, 1869, and 1871. The country's post-independence legal system is a civil law system with its roots in French and Spanish codes. Whereas the Constitution separates the powers of government into the traditional three official branches — legislative, executive, and judicial, it also recognizes an independent Supreme Electoral Tribunal that has jurisdiction over disputes involving electoral matters and functions as a fourth power with the same rank as the other powers.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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References

Barker, Robert S., “Judicial Review in Costa Rica: Evolution and Recent Developments” (2000) VII Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas267–90Google Scholar
Andrew Brynes, “El uso de las normas internacionales de derechos humanos en la interpretación constitucional para el adelanto de los derechos humanos de las mujeres” en Género y Derecho (Santiago: ILANUD, Ediciones Lom, 1999) 67
“El Sistema Costarricense de Informacion Judicial,” online: <www.poder-judicial.go.cr> (date accessed: June 17, 2002)
Ilse Abshagen Leitinger, ed. & trans., The Costa Rican Women's Movement: A Reader (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997)
Zarela Villanueva Monge and Alexandra Bogantes Rodríguez, Principio de Igualdad y Jurisprudencia Constitucional (San José: Corte Suprema de Justicia Poder Judicial, 1996)
Alda Facio Montejo, Cuando el Genero Suena Cambios Trae (San José: ILANUD, 1999)
Mario Alberto Jiménez Quesada, Desarrollo constitucional de Costa Rica, 4th ed. (San José, Juricentro, 1992)
Manuel Rojas, Lucha social y guerra civil en Costa Rica 1940–1948 (San José: Editorial Porvenir, 1982)
Saint-Germain, Michelle A. and Morgan, Martha I., “Equality: Costa Rican Women Demand the Real Thing” (1991) 11 Women and Politics23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rodrigo Jiménez Sandoval, La Igualdad de Género en el Derecho Laboral Centroamericano (San José: ILANUD-OIT, 2001)
Naomi Seizler, Sterilization, Gender and the Law in Costa Rica (San José: ILANUD, 2000)

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