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Judicial Reform and Legal Opportunity Structure: The Emergence of Strategic Litigation against Femicide in Mexico

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society

ISBN: 978-1-83982-279-7, eISBN: 978-1-83982-278-0

Publication date: 4 May 2020


In a country where judicial institutions are known to be inefficient and where activists have traditionally not engaged in legal mobilization, what explains the emergence of NGO strategic litigation? The author argues that a change in the legal opportunity structure impacts how activists interact with the legal system. Comparing two states in Mexico, the author demonstrates that the introduction of private prosecution rights opened the door for activists to litigate femicide cases. The emergence of strategic litigation has helped improve compliance with international human rights law and has had a demonstration effect on how to use the law to press for accountability.




I thank Samuel Tapia and Daniela Vidal for their research on femicide cases. I also thank all those colleagues who provided feedback, comments, and/or criticisms as I worked in this project over the years, in particular Cora Fernández Anderson, Janice Gallagher, Lisa Hilbink, Héctor Pérez Rivera, Jennifer Piscopo; Juliana Restrepo, Alba M. Ruibal, Shannon D. Walsh, and various anonymous reviewers. Any errors or shortcomings are my own. Fieldwork research for this project was funded by the International Thesis Research Grant and the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota.


Michel, V. (2020), "Judicial Reform and Legal Opportunity Structure: The Emergence of Strategic Litigation against Femicide in Mexico", Sarat, A. (Ed.) Studies in Law, Politics, and Society (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 82), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 27-54.



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