Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Information

13 Am. Soc'y Int'l L. Insights 9 (2009)


Legal confusion has clouded the recent de facto change of government in Honduras. Some of this arises from the passionate political debate over President Manuel Zelaya and his de facto removal. Without entering that debate, this analysis addresses only questions of international law and related questions of law.

Despite the condemnation of the coup d’état by the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the OAS, and by many governments including the United States, and despite suspension of Honduras from receipt of U.S. and European aid, and from participation in the OAS, diplomatic efforts to return President Zelaya to Honduras have not succeeded as of the date of this writing. Most recently, the U.S. has revoked the diplomatic visas of four persons associated with the de facto regime, and has many more visas under review. As diplomatic efforts and political debates continue, at least the threshold legal question should be put to rest: the purported removal and replacement of President Zelaya were, in the words of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, an “unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order.” Whatever one’s views of the president and his prior conduct, the June 28 coup was an assault on constitutional order. If allowed to stand, it will become a menacing precedent for democracy, not only in Honduras, but throughout the hemisphere.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.