The International Association of Constitutional Law || l'Association Internationale de Droit Constitutionnel

University of Siena, Certosa di Pontignano
June 15-16, 2023

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Equality, as a concept, is as old as mankind and, as a principle, it has been part of many constitutional documents since the American and the French Revolutions. After the Second World War it became a core element of the “Postwar paradigm”, as part of international documents and national constitutions. Afterwards, it has been entrenched in many constitutions willing to fight against social inequalities, in the context of the “transformative constitutionalism” movement, especially in the Global South.

The different understandings of equality always raised challenges for constitutional law: How to reconcile the tension between formal and substantive equality? Which nondiscrimination clauses should be considered? Could written constitutions be interpreted progressively, in order to broaden the nondiscrimination principle? How can substantive equality be protected, if the legislator is inactive? Could courts make up for legislators, to fill in their omissions? Is gender equality more likely to be achieved through the formal or substantive equality principle?

New challenges have developed in the 21st century, in the context of democratic decay. In many democracies, old and new, political forces hostile to liberal democracy appear to attack the rule of law and constitutional guarantees, after winning electoral majorities in the polls.

The Roundtable will be co-organized by the DIPEC Research Group at the University of Siena, within the research projects PRIN 2017 “Framing and diagnosing constitutional degradation: a comparative perspective”, Principal Investigator: Prof. Tania Groppi and PRIN 2017 “The constitutional implications of European separatist claims”, Principal Investigator: Prof. Alessandro Torre – Siena Unit “Separatist claims, minority rights and citizenship transformation”, Responsible: Prof. Valeria Piergigli and the Jean Monnet Module EUGENIA (responsible prof. Tania Groppi).


The Roundtable is structured around a keynote speech, three main sessions, and a young scholars’ session:

  • Keynote speech: Equality and Democratic Decay. New Challenges
  • First Session: The principle of Equality and Social Justice
  • Second Session: Gender Equality
  • Third Session: Pluralism and Minorities
  • Special Session for Young Scholars: The Principle of Equality and Rule of Law

15 June

  • 9:30/10:30, Opening Session
    Keynote Speech: Equity and Democratic Decay. New Challenge

  • 11:00/13:00, First Session
    The principle of Equality and Social Justice

  • 14:00/16:00, Second Session
    Gender Equality

  • 16:30/19:00
    Special Session for Young Scholars
     The Principle of Equality and Rule of Law

16 June

  • 9:30/11:30, Third Session
    Pluralism and Minorities

  • 12:00/13:00, Closing Remarks


15 June

9.30-10.30 Opening Session

Chair: Tania Groppi, University of Siena

Opening Speeches

Helle Krunke, President of the IACL
Roberto Di Pietra, Rector of the University of Siena
Rolando Tarchi, President of DPCE

Barbara Pozzo, President SIRD

Keynote Speech - Equality and Democratic Decay: New Challenges
Tom Ginsburg
“The Expressive Complexities of Constitutional Equality”

16 June

First Session 11:00/13:00

The principle of Equality and Social Justice

Chairs: Helle Krunke, University of Copenhagen & Marek Zubik, University of Warsaw

David Bilchtiz, University of Johannesburg
“Equality of What? The Need for Minimum Thresholds in Giving Effect to Socio-Economic Rights”

Irene Spigno, Academia Interamericana de derechos humanos, Saltillo, Coahuila, México
“Social Rights in Mexican constitutionalism”

Akiko Ejima, Meiji University, Tokyo
“The principle of equality in transforming society: achievements and challenges”

Siri Gloppen, University of Bergen
“Can social movements advance substantive equality through social rights lawfare?”

Second Session 11:00/13:00

Gender Equality

Chairs: Susanna Mancini, University of Bologna & Tom Daly, University of Melbourne

Angelo Schillaci, University Sapienza of Rome
 “A matter of Equal Dignity. New paths in the recognition and protection of Gender Identity in European Constitutional Experiences”

Selin Esen, University of Ankara
 “Protecting the women's rights through a constitutional court: the case of Turkey”

Iris Nguyen Duy, University of Agder, Norway
“Gender Equality in France: Constitutional Framework and Challenges”

Neila Chaabane, University of Carthage & Salwa Hamrouni, University of Carthage
 “Gender equality in the Tunisian constitutions”

Special Session for Young Scholars:
The Principle of Equality and Rule of Law

Jens Elo Rytter, University of Copenhagen
When-Chen Chang, National University Taiwan
Speakers selected on the basis of the Call for papers

Third Session 11:00/13:00

Pluralism and Minorities

Chairs: Valeria Piergigli, University of Siena & Anna Cornell Jonsson, University of Uppsala

Oumarou Narey, Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey-Niger
“Les droits des minorités en Afrique: jeux et enjeux“

Josè Maria Serna, Instituto de Investigaciones Juridicas, UNAM, Mexico
“Pluralism and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Mexico: the difficult coexistence of state and non-state judicial systems”

Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Queen Mary’s University, London, UK
“Pluralism in the UK: inequities, devolution and independence in Scotland”

Jens Woelk, University of Trento
“Political participation and representation of minorities in the Western Balkans”

Closing Remarks
Giuliano Amato
”Non-discrimination principle as a major source of equality”

Preferential topics to be addressed

varieties of conception of equality and their impact on the rule of law principle

National Minorities
the accommodation of national minorities and liberal democracy;

Judiciary Power
the role of an independent judiciary, in protecting equality;

Gender Equality
the interaction between the rule of law backsliding and gender equality;

the impact of economic and social inequalities on liberal democracy;

Rule of Law
the tension between the vision of equality proposed by populists the rule of law principle;


Jointly organized by:


Gruppo di ricerca e formazione sul diritto pubblico comparato ed europeo


International Association of Constitutional Law

with the collaboration of: