LANDS Project

Past events, pilot projects and research

Pilot Project

A pilot study conducted in Brazil suggested that, in response to major setbacks in the transition to a market economy during the 1990s, Brazil, along with other governments in the region, has explored new development policies and experimented with new modes of governance and regulation (pilot ). In a LANDS working paper entitled Developmental States and the Legal Order: Towards a New Political Economy of Development and Law, David Trubek suggests that a new developmental state model may be emerging, one which would be different from both the 1960s state-centric Import Substitution Industrialization model and from the neo-liberal ideal of minimal state intervention. Some of these ideas were developed in a subsequent presentation entitled Law and Development in the 21st Century (2009).


To develop the Latin American study LANDS held several preliminary sessions and develop a “canon” of key texts which have helped orient the research. These texts were read by all participants and used to develop research designs.

Canon List

Case Studies and Findings

LANDS has conducted a preliminary probe of these issues. Through case studies in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, the project has identified policy changes, assessed the governance regimes they entail, and explored the potential role of law in these developments. Case studies of industrial policy and investment strategies in Brazil and Colombia, trade law and policy space for development in Brazil and Mexico, and social policy, poverty alleviation and inequality reduction in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela trace the history of law and policy making in these fields.

These cases show that many countries are moving away to one degree or another from neo-liberal models. But they also suggest that there is substantial variation in the approach to the new role of the state in development in Latin America: some countries are trying to reinvent the developmental state for a new era; some hold onto neo-liberal commitments, while others seek to return to prior models of state activism. In some cases we have found new policies layered on older ones and contradictions within both policy and law.

The case studies also show substantial differences in the mutual interaction between policy and law and underscore the complexity of this relationship today. We find instances where law has served as the framework for policy innovation and others in which law has served as a barrier. We see instances in which new constitutional commitments to social and economic rights have had an impact on the direction of policies and others in which states have sought to bypass constitutional limits. There are cases in which international legal commitments have restricted the space for policy innovation, and others in which close alliances between lawyers and policy makers and investments in international economic law capacity have allowed a country to preserve heterodox developmental policies in the face of potentially restrictive trade law rules. We see situations where creative lawyers have developed new legal tools and adopted older ones to facilitate innovative development policies and some evidence that new and more flexible forms of law are being tried out.

Meetings and Papers

LANDS has held several workshops and meeting at which ideas were exchanged and preliminary drafts circulated. The final meeting of LANDS Latin American project was held on May 12-13 at Cebrap in São Paulo (program) . The following papers were presented and comments were provided by scholars and representatives of civil society and government. The final meeting was organized by Diogo R. Coutinho of Cebrap and sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

David M. Trubek, Law and the "New Developmentalism"

Alvaro Santos, Carving out Policy Autonomy for Developing Countries in the WTO

David M. Trubek, Developmental States and the Legal Order: Towards a New Political Economy of Development and Law

Diogo R. Coutinho, Law and Development Policies in Brazil: Decentralization and Coordination in the Bolsa Família Program

Helena Alviar Garcia, Social  Policy  and  the  New  Development State: The Case of Colombia

Manuel A. Gómez, Law, Governance and Social Policies in Venezuela: The Case of Two Bolivarian Misiones

Mario G. Schapiro, Rediscovering the Developmental Path? Development Bank, Law and Innovation Finance in the Brazilian Economy

Michelle Ratton Sanchez Badin, Developmental Responses to the International Trade Legal Game: Examples of intellectual property and export credit law reforms in Brazil

Shunko Rojas, Law and the New Political Economy of Development in Colombia: Changes and Continuities in Industrial Policies

For a pdf copy of any single paper please contact Project Assistant Tatiana Sierra

Workshop 2009

Lock Icon