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

Equality is a central principle in constitutional law yet it raises a plethora of conceptual and practical challenges for jurists, theorists, legal scholars, and political scientists. To explore the various facets of equality, the IACL held a roundtable on “The Principle of Equality: New and Old Challenges,” which was hosted by the University of Siena on June 15-16, 2023. The roundtable, which featured speakers from around the world, brought together a truly global and comparative set of perspectives on the principle of equality in constitutional law. In this report, we have summarized the major themes of the roundtable. Given the number of speakers and topics, we have not provided a separate discussion of each speaker’s contributions (with the exception of the keynote speech and the closing remarks). For further details on the papers of individual speakers, please see the roundtable’s program. 

Conference conveners

  • The International Association of Constitutional law
  • Iraqia University
  • Doha Institute for Graduate Studies
  • The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Rule of Law Programme Middle East & North Africa
  • The Arab Association of Constitutional Law
  • International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

Baghdad, 19-20 January 2024

Download Call for Papers

The World Congress is the most important of all activities organised by the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL), held every 4 years to bring together constitutionalists from all regions of the world. 

Following the highly successful 2022 Congress in Johannesburg, we are now seeking applications to host the 2026 World Congress. 

Interested institutions can find here:

Download guidelines 

Application Form (English) 

On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation invaded the sovereign and independent territory of Ukraine with its armed forces. Russia’s actions constitute a serious violation of international law and have undermined any semblance of democracy in Russia. Its aggression has led to severe consequences for the lives, security and fundamental rights of both Ukrainian and Russian citizens. 

The International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) is a global association of constitutional scholars. The IACL is committed to dialogue and co-operation amongst scholars. Amongst its objectives are cooperation and working towards the ‘realisation of the aims of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (Article 4 of the IACL Statute). In order to achieve these goals, the IACL promotes constitutionalism, peace, democracy, the rule of law and international human rights both theoretically and in practice. It strives towards diversity, pluralism and an inclusive academic debate across different traditions of constitutionalism. 

Click here to register

on the 50th Anniversary of the Stockholm Conference

Environment, Climate Change and Constitutionalism

20 - 21 October 2022
Venue: Union of Turkish Bars Associations, Lawyer Özdemir Özok Congress and Culture Center
Adress: Oğuzlar Mahallesi, Av. Özdemir Özok Sokak, No:8, 06520 Balgat - Ankara

  Download Programme

Jointly organized by

The International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL), Union of Turkish Bar Associations, Municipality of Çankaya, The Association of Research on Constitutional Law (Anayasa-Der) & The International Center for Comparative Environmental Law (CIDCE).

The IACL Round Table on “Political sentiments and moral emotions in Constitutional Law” was successfully organised in Cordoba, Argentina, on August 9-10, 2022.

The main organiser of the RT, Professor Pablo Riberi, has kindly put at the IACL's disposal some of the communications from the RT and the recordings of the sessions.


  Prof Hernandez
  Prof. Marcelo Figueiredo

Join us for the closing panel of the IACL's 2022 Junior Scholars Forum

Professor Adrienne Stone
University of Melbourne Law School
Professor Liora Lazarus
University of British Columbia
Professor Vicki Jackson
Harvard Law School

About this event

Location: Online

Time: 2:30 PM: Vancouver | 4:30 PM: Mexico City | 5:30 PM: Cambridge (MA) and Ottawa | September 15, at 7:30 AM: Melbourne

On September 14, from 5:30—6:30pm on Zoom (Ottawa, Canada), the Ottawa Public Law Centre and the UNAM Institute for Legal Research will hold the closing panel of the Junior Scholars Forum of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL-AIDC).

Register here

Join us for the opening panel of the IACL's 2022 Junior Scholars Forum

Professor Jorge Esquirol
Florida International University
Justice Natalia Ángel Cabo
Constitutional Court of Colombia
Professor Dinesha Samararatne
University of Colombo
Professor Bertil Emrah Oder
Koç University
Professor Sujith Zavier
University of Windsor

About this event

Location: Online

Time: 8:30 AM: Mexico City and Bogotá | 9:30 AM: Ottawa, Windsor and Miami | 4:30 PM: Ankara | 7:00 PM: Colombo | 11:30 PM: Melbourne

On September 8, from 9:30—11:00am on Zoom (Ottawa, Canada), the Ottawa Public Law Centre and the UNAM Institute for Legal Research will hold the opening panel of the Junior Scholars Forum of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL-AIDC).

Register here

The IACL-AIDC congratulates our President Emeritus, Professor Cheryl Saunders, who was recently was awarded the prestigious Tang Prize in Rule of Law

The prize recognises Professor Saunders’outstanding contribution to comparative public law worldwide and her work in constitution building in the Asia-Pacific region in particular. 

The Tang Prize Selection Committee paid tribute to Professor Saunders’s pioneering scholarship, noting that she “consistently broadens the boundaries of comparative constitutional law scholarship through active engagement, dialogue and collaboration with scholars and political actors at home and abroad”.

9 - 10 August 2022


Beyond practical reason and/or economic rationality do any other human distinctive features refl­ect on constitutional law? Is it possible to identify any range of moral feelings and/or emotional mind-states as normatively relevant in terms of constitutional decision-making? Do atavistic political sentiments still count? Why do similar written constitutions –with almost identical provisions- not exhibit similar levels of compliance?

Throughout history, in various geographies, it is crystal clear that certain individuals' moral and character skills have been key data for predicting social cohesion and civil cooperation. A wide range of savvy philosophers, politicians, and constitutional scholars have delved into this issue. Aristotle, Cicero, N. Machiavelli, T. Hobbes, JJ. Rousseau, D. Hume, Robespierre, T. Jefferson, J. Madison, M. Weber, H. Arendt, B. Williams, R. Hardin, M. Nussbaum, J. Habermas, T. Nagel, J. Elster, M. Sandel, A. Sajó;  all of them are examples of this unstable trend.

On the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Stockholm Conference


(IACL roundtable on “Environment, Climate Change and Constitutionalism”, The Union of Turkish Bar Associations, Ankara, Turkey, 20-21 October 2022)

Organized by the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL), the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB)

In collaboration with the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law (CIDCE)the Association of Research on Constitutional Law (ARCL)

Venue: the Union of Turkish Bar Associations Conference Hall, İlhami Soysal Sokak No. 3, 06230, Balgat, Ankara, Turkey (and online).

  Download Call for Papers

Conference subject-matter

Climate change has turned into a global crisis today, as it affects almost everything. States are facing many challenges regarding the climate crisis and other environmental issues both domestically and transnationally. Climate crisis and other environmental issues have a deep impact on law, and they have been raising the question, among others, to what extent the existing legal instruments and measures are necessary and effective in combating this problem.

Organized by the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL), the Centre for European and Comparative Legal Studies (CECS), University of Copenhagen, and the Nordic network CONNOR 2030.

Contemporary challenges to constitutionalism in the Nordics

 In collaboration with the University of Helsinki and the University of Lund  

  Official website

Venue: University of Copenhagen, Nørregade 10, Committee Room 3, 3rd floor, 1165 Copenhagen K, Denmark (and online).

  Download programme

Roundtable Subject Matter

We live in the era of digitalization and this has an immense impact on Constitutional Law. Fundamental principles such as rule of law, legal certainty, and democracy are challenged. New rights such as the ‘right to be forgotten’ and data protection appear. The institutions, their competences and separation of powers are affected by these developments. The preconditions of Constitutional Law and the context in which it functions are changing. Furthermore, digitalization prompts new research methods.        

  Download this statement

version française

As a global organisation of scholars of constitutional law, the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL-AIDC) is firmly committed to the promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights through constitutional legislation and practice. These commitments are outlined in our Statute which also commits the Association to collaboration with cultural and social forces attached to the promotion of human rights and democracy.

The IACL-AIDC’s capacity to perform these roles depends to a large degree on the possibility of constitutional scholars and practitioners meeting and interacting with each other. The Association’s capacity is seriously hampered in this regard by the severe effects of COVID 19. The crisis also endangers the IACL-AIDC’s XIth World Congress scheduled for 2022 in South Africa.

Please Note: Roundtable postponed to 10-13 June 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic

Download program

Link to the official programhttps://events.spbu.ru/events/anons/identity/program.html?lang=Eng

In the contemporary world, globalization processes blur economic, social, cultural and other “state boundaries”. Apart from major advantages, they also bring about some global disadvantages, including the necessity to preserve cultural diversity as common heritage of mankind. On the national state level, the need to partly “re-establish” disappearing boundaries is inter alia mediated by introducing the notion of “constitutional identity”.

Constitutional identity is closely related to ethnic, religious, cultural, historical and political identity, but at the same time differs from them. In defining this phenomenon, many questions arise: should constitutional identity be future-oriented? What aspects of collective identity can underlie constitutional identity? What is the relationship between constitutional identity and national identity? What are the models of constitutional identity?

10-12 December 2020, Melbourne Australia

2020 will be a key milestone for those focused on the health of constitutional democracy worldwide. It will mark the tenth anniversary of the election of the Fidesz government in Hungary, which has laid down a template for the active dismantling of democratic governance through incremental and sophisticated use of law and policy. Since 2010, the number of liberal democracies worldwide whose health, or even endurance, is now in doubt has grown exponentially.

Some states have closely followed the Hungarian script: Poland, under Law and Justice Party rule since 2015, has travelled toward constitutional breakdown and after the elections in October 2019 saw the rule of that party consolidated. In other states we see incremental deterioration of the democratic system that follows a less clear ‘masterplan’ but which remains highly troubling, from the USA, to India under the BJP (in power since 2014 and having won re-election in May 2019), to Brazil, where diffuse decay of the democratic system culminated in the election of the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in October 2018.

Call for Papers is closed

IACL-AIDC Junior Scholars Forum has been postponed to 5-6 July 2021

The International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL-AIDC) is pleased to announce its inaugural Junior Scholars Forum to be held at the National University of Singapore on 2-3 July 2020, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law’s Centre for Asian Legal Studies and Melbourne Law School’s Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies. The Forum aims to provide junior constitutional law scholars with a platform (a) to develop their scholarship and interest in constitutional law, (b) to connect with other junior scholars from around the world, in particular bridging the gap between scholars located in the ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’, and (c) to receive feedback on their research and writing from distinguished scholars in the field.

  Download Call for Papers

Constitutional responses to terrorism research group

Bocconi University | Room AS03 | via Röntgen 1
13 - 14 June 2019

  Download Program

IACL Roundtable in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú Law School

IACL Roundtable: 'The Constitutional Challenges of Migration Processes'
24 to 26 October 2019 - Cusco, Peru

  Download Call for Papers
  Download Program

research 1

On June 13-14, 2019, within the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) the Research Group on “Constitutional Responses to Terrorism”, chaired by Prof. Kim L. Scheppele (Princeton University, USA) and coordinated by Prof. Arianna Vedaschi (Bocconi University, Italy), will organize its Annual Workshop on “Counter-Terrorism at the Crossroad between International, Regional and Domestic Law”. The venue of the event will be Bocconi University, Milan, Italy.


seoul korea

Programme: World Congress of the IACL - 18 to 22 June 2018

The Xth World Congress of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) will be held from 18 to 22 June 2018 in Seoul, Korea.

The theme of the World Congress is "Violent Conflicts, Peace-Building and Constitutional Law"

call fp

The IACL has extended the deadline - until 30 April 2018 - for proposals to present in workshops at the World Congress of Constitutional Law. Please convey this news to all interested colleagues.

We would welcome further proposals on the range of diverse workshops at the World Congress and look forward to a stimulating Congress in the wonderful setting of Seoul.



28 March 2018

Ibrahim Kaboğlu, Professor of Constitutional Law, President of the Constitutional Law Research Association and a member of the Istanbul Bar, is being prosecuted for "terrorist propaganda".


IACL Round Table: 5 - 6 May 2017 
Rome, Italy

“Constitutional Adjudication: Traditions and Horizons”

The next IACL Roundtable will be held in Rome on 5 & 6 May 2017, under the auspices of the Speaker of the Greek Parliament, Ms Zoe Konstantopoulou.

Institutional Affiliation: The Roundtable will be hosted by LUISS Guido Carli University, Department of Law and Department of Political Science.

Convener: The Convener of the Roundtable is Professor Susanna Mancini, Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Bologna School of Law, Executive Committee Member of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL).


14 February 2017

On 7 February 2017, the Turkish government issued an emergency decree dismissing 330 academics in Turkey from their jobs, without due process. Among these was Prof Ibrahim Kaboğlu, a former member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL). Prof Kaboğlu is a world-renowned Professor of constitutional law; the former head of the Turkish Human Rights Advisory Council; a Lawyer at the Istanbul Bar; a columnist for BirGun Daily; the former head of the International Human Rights Centre of the Istanbul Bar; and the President of the Association of Research on Constitutional Law.

seoul korea

World Congress of the IACL - 18 to 22 June 2018

The Xth World Congress of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) will be held from 18 to 22 June 2018 in Seoul, Korea.

The theme of the World Congress is "Violent Conflicts, Peace-Building and Constitutional Law"

oxford constitutions

Call for African Reporters: Oxford's Constitutions of the Countries of the World (CCW)

The Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA) in the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria wishes to invite interested persons to apply for the position of country reporter for any of the countries indicated below for Oxford’s CCW.

call for papers sasca2017

Call for papers: Fifth Stellenbosch Annual Seminar on Constitutionalism in Africa (SASCA 2017)

Corruption and constitutionalism in Africa: Revisiting control measures and strategies


Following an application to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, Oxford University is pleased to report that funding has been secured for three scholarships for candidates from developing African Commonwealth countries to study for the part-time Master’s in International Human Rights Law starting September 2014.  Admissions are now open and will close on 23 April 2014.  For full details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, please visit www.conted.ox.ac.uk/ihrlmst/cw.

Download Oxford 2014 scholarships postcard (Africa)

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Call for Papers: What Form of Government for the European Union and the Eurozone?

Venue: Tilburg Law School, Tilburg, the Netherlands
Dates: 5/6 June 2014
Organizers: Federico Fabbrini, Han Somsen on behalf of Tilburg Law School


 XI Ibero-American Constitutional Law Meeting “Jorge Carpizo” 17 - 19 September 2013
Tucuman, Argentina

Presentations of the National Sections of Ibero-american Constitutional Law Associations on the following subjects: problems, opportunities and challenges of latin american constitutionalism; the guarantee of fundamental rights; Constitution and Equality, ESCR Rights and Progressivity, and Constitutional State and its principles

More information: 

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Call for Papers: The Constitutionalization of European Budgetary Constraints: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspective

Venue: Tilburg Law School, Tilburg, the Netherlands
Dates: 30/31 May 2013
Organizers: Maurice Adams, Federico Fabbrini, Pierre Larouche

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Call for Papers: Sociology of Law and Political Action

Sciences Po Toulouse is organizing, in collaboration with the Research Committee on Sociology of Law of the International Sociological Association (ISA/RCSL), with the support of the European Network on Law and Society (RED&S), a Congress which will take place in Toulouse, from September 3 to 6, 2013, on the theme: "Sociology of Law and Political Action"

The Calls for Papers are available on the site of the Congress in the "Call for Papers" section: http://2013rcslcongress.sciencespo-toulouse.fr/call-for-papers

Abstracts are submitted online, by completing the form presented on the same page. The deadline for submission of abstracts is planned on February 1st, 2013, last deadline. We hope that you will be many to participate in this meeting. More informations on the site of the Congress: http://2013rcslcongress.sciencespo-toulouse.fr/welcome

More information:

event 14 april 2014

IACL Round Table: 14 - 16 April 2013
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 Constitutionalism and Economic Crisis: National and Transnational Economic Regulation and Social Rights in the 21st Century

The conference is co-organised by the Social Rights Group of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL). The main goal of this Group (funded by a grant of Ford Foundation) is to develop a network and a forum for constitutionalists interested in social rights from countries throughout the world, with a double objective: First, to promote research and awareness on economic and social rights among international and constitutional law professionals. Second, to advocate for the full implementation of social rights, with a focus to the adoption of the Optional Protocol (ICESCR-OP) to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Group operates a blog, which presents its activities and hosts a comparative Case Law “library” of representative judgments of Constitutional Courts of various jurisdictions. It comprises two regional networks, an African and a South American one, which have so far organised two workshops, one in Lagos, Nigeria, and another in San Juan, Argentina.

Constitutionalism and Economic Crisis: National and Transnational

Economic Regulation and Social Rights

in the 21st Century

18 october 2013

IACL Round Table: 18 - 19 October 2013
Florence, Italy

While distinguishing for the first time in history the realm of politics from those of morals and religion, Niccolò Machiavelli is worldwide believed as having founded modern political science. However, his merits today go beyond this traditional account, to the extent that his writings raise the crucial issue of how political power might be conceived in democratic contexts. Recent academic debates demonstrate both the importance and the controversies affecting Machiavelli’s writings, not only due to the differences between ‘The Discourses’ and ‘The Prince’, but also because of the question of his contribution to the emergence of republicanism. Hence derive the role and relevance of Machiavelli’s thinking in contemporary constitutional law developments, including those related to globalisation and international relations.

The International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) has decided to dedicate one of its Round Table Conferences in 2013 to a discussion on the relevance of Machiavelli for constitutionalism today. The event will be organized in Florence on 18-19 October 2013 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the writing of ‘The Prince’.

  • For further information, contact Ms Bulckaen This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The event is fully booked and no more participants can be accommodated (7 October 2013).


IACL Round Table: 6 - 7 March 2014
Harvard Law School, Boston, USA

The Executive Committee of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) in collaboration with the IACL Research Group on ‘Constitutional Responses to Terrorism’

Harvard Law School, Boston, USA


  • Prof Martin Scheinin (European University Institute, President of the IACL)
  • Prof Lech Garlicki (Former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights)
  • Prof Vicki Jackson (Harvard Law School)
  • Dr Savvas Papasavvas (Judge of the General Court of the European Union)
  • Prof Kim Lane Scheppele (Princeton University)
  • Prof Erika de Wet (University of Pretoria)
  • A number of other speakers will be selected through a call for papers, which is currently available on the webpage of the IACL Research Group on ‘Constitutional Responses to Terrorism’:

Themes of the Round Table

1. Constitutional challenges and opportunities arising from international institutions and obligations
2. Constitutional issues arising from EU and ECHR obligations and coordination
3. Constitutional challenges posed by transnational cooperation and divergence in counterterrorism policy and practice.

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 1: Electoral systems and constitutional principles

Elections are an essential element of a democratic system. But electoral systems are not neutral. They reflect and reinforce many of the principles and values that underlie the constitutional order. Sometimes the influence of the electoral system on the constitutional order is obvious and deliberate. Sometimes it is not.

Moreover, there may be tensions between the principles underpinning an electoral system. For instance, principles promoting majority rule and those intended to give minorities a voice; principles promoting inclusiveness and those promoting stable government; principles promoting freedom of political expression and those promoting fair electoral campaigns.

This session will explore the relationship between electoral systems and constitutional principles and values. Among the issues that it will address are:

  • How electoral systems may work to strengthen or to challenge existing constitutional principles
  • What is the impact of electoral systems on divisions in society?  Do they promote political activities that bridge divides or reinforce group identity?
  • What are the ways in which different electoral systems work to include or exclude different groups in society (such as women and ethnic or other minorities)?  Is there a role for affirmative action in electoral systems?
  • In divided societies should simple majority rule be tempered to ensure a voice for minorities?
  • Is there a tension between the design of electoral systems to ensure the representation of all minorities (inclusiveness), and the design of systems to ensure stable, effective government?
  • The right to vote and qualifications for voting and how they may influence constitutional principles such as those concerning inclusiveness and citizenship, for instance, should prisoners have the right to vote?
  • Who decides whether an election is ‘free and fair’ using what criteria? What is the role of courts, particularly a constitutional court?
  • What is the impact of principles underlying electoral systems on the adjudication of electoral disputes?

These questions are not exhaustive. The workshop is open to those interested in these questions and others that concern principles and electoral systems.

Professors  Nadia Bernoussi [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Christina Murray [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]; and Judge Manuel Gonzalez Oropeza [c/o This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.].

Please address all queries in the first instance to Professor Murray

Please see further:

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 15: The impact of international law on constitutional principles

This workshop will examine the trend toward the increasing incorporation of rules and principles of international law into domestic constitutions. The trend is most pronounced in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law, though the workshop certainly welcomes studies in other areas of international law as well. We will construe the workshop topic rather broadly, and will welcome the full range of studies: those with a specific country focus, those with a comparative or regional focus, those with a doctrinal focus (e.g., the presumption of innocence vis-à-vis emerging international standards of evidence in sexual offenses, or vis-à-vis command responsibility of officers), or those with larger themes (the relation between international and domestic standards of human rights, or between rules embodied by international law and democratic processes embodied in constitutions).

For instance, international conventions have elaborated the definition of specific human rights, and these definitions have either broadened or constricted the domestic definitions. On one hand, international law has fully elaborated the norm of equality and nondiscrimination in ways that can inform domestic constitutions more tightly drafted in the context of a country’s ethnic, racial, linguistic or religious composition. On the other hand, the freedom of speech is typically protected in domestic constitutions, yet international law has also allowed their derogation in, for instance, cases of hate speech.

In addition, the rise of international criminal tribunals starting from the early 1990s – the Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Cambodia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, and most recently, the International Criminal Court – has produced a body of rules (e.g., the Yugoslavia tribunal’s rulings on genocide and hate speech) and institutional arrangements (and mixed or hybrid tribunal to punish the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia) that either foster or deter the incorporation of international standards into domestic constitutions. Furthermore, the ICC’s jurisdiction is merely “complementary” to national jurisdictions which have the first shot at prosecuting the accused. These developments give us an opportunity to ask how to judge these different enforcement regimes: whether to construe the domestic incorporation of global rules as the triumph of the “rule of law”, or the primacy of national constitutions as the reign of democratic majorities.

Professors Raul Pangalangan [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Ibrahim Kaboglu [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]. 

Please see further:

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Call for papers: Conference on Law, Culture, Constitutionalism and Governance
Cape Town, 10 - 11 December 2010

 La Trobe University School of Law, Australia will host a two-day conference on December 10 and 11th, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.   The conference will be hosted in conjunction with the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch.  

 Prof. Chanock is one of the leading scholars on African customary law, and in particular, the historical basis of the South African legal system. His scholarship has been widely cited and frequently applauded. There is no doubt that he is the pre-eminent South African legal historian.   During his distinguished career and in his scholarship he has explored the following themes: 

  • the making of customary law in the processes of colonial government  and the economic changes brought by colonialism and their legacy;
  • the development of customary law as a dialogue between colonial government and their African subjects;
  • the making of a South African legal culture by whites without such a dialogue and as an opposite construct, an “othering”  to “civilized western law”;  
  • the lynchpin of South African customary law, namely gender subordination and inequality, that raises crucial issues both for South Africa and the African continent in relation to the vital question as to how law can be Africanized and democratized on a new basis of gender equality;
  • the possible roles for customary law in failing states;
  • the possible roles for customary law within the governance of sustainability and the mistaken uses of the idea of the traditional in ‘traditional knowledge’ debates in intellectual property;
  • what a new legal formalism might look like in a democratic state (without the domination of legal professionals), including a critique of the fetishism of bills of rights and the idea that judges can settle not just political questions but contribute much to the desperate needs of states struggling with capacity to govern;
  • land law and land rights.

Day One of the conference will focus on legal history, constitutionalism, indigenous law, law and culture, and land rights.   On Day two the conference will explore the issues of Legal Theory and Lawyering, to examine the contribution of constitutionalism to progressive lawyering and the wider access to justice project.  

By exploring legal history, contemporary legal and constitutional concerns, and future possibilities, the conference will evaluate the ways that a transformative constitutionalism, despite historical impediments, might create the spaces and possibilities for creative lawyering that engages civic associations and individual citizens in their pursuit of justice and equity.

The Honorable Pius Langa, the former Chief Justice of South Africa, will be the keynote speaker.

Those interested in presenting a paper should send a 500-word abstract by June 1st  to Prof. Penelope Andrews at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   Conference funding is limited, and there is an expectation that many participants will obtain funding from their home institutions.  Please indicate in your submission whether you will be able to secure your own funding to attend.   Formal invitations will be sent once participants have been chosen and the program has been finalized.

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Roundtable: Unconstitutional constitutional amendments
Jerusalem April 2010

A roundtable of the IACL, on the theme “Unconstitutional constitutional amendments” took place in Jerusalem on 25-26 April 2010.



  • Opening Session: Part 1
    Chair: Professor Martin Scheinin, European University Institute
    Welcome: Professor Barak Medina, Dean, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University
    Ms Justice Dorit Beinisch, President, the Supreme Court of Israel
    Mr Didier Maus, Conseiller dEtat; President, the International Association of Constitutional Law
  • Professor Claude Klein, Hebrew University:
    "The modernity of a constitutional question"
  • Dr. Sharon Weintal, Hebrew University:
    "A typology of the non-amendable provisions in the constitutions"

  • Opening Session: Part 2
  • Professor Otto Pfersmann, University Paris 1:
    "A normativist approach to the hierarchisation of constitutional law"
  • Professor Ulrich Preuss, the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin:
    "Another approach"

  • Session 2: Part 1
    Chair: Professor Suzie Navot, Law School College of Management, Rishon Letzion
  • Professor Aharon Barak, former President of the Supreme Court of Israel:
    "Unconstitutional amendments in Israel: theory and practice"
  • Professor Denis Baranger, University of Paris 2: 
    "A new old french problem"
  • Professor Iain Currie, University of Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg:
    "The South African constitutional experience"
  • Professor Lech Garlicki, Judge, the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg:
    "An international regulation?"

  • Session 2: Part 2
    Chair : Professor Suzie Navot, the Law School College of Management, Rishon Letzion
  • Professor Gary Jacobsohn, University of Texas:
    "India and its jurisprudence"
  • Professor Eivin Smith, Oslo University: 
    "On an old protected constitution"
  • Dr. Héctor Fix-Fierro, Director, the Institute for legal research (ILJ), the National University of Mexico
    "Challenging the sovereign: Judicial Review of constitutional amendments in Mexico"
  • Dr. Francisco Tortolero, scholar at the ILJ, the National University of Mexico
    "Challenging the sovereign: Judicial Review of constitutional amendments in Mexico"

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Protection of socio-economic rights in Africa
Cape Town, September 2010

The African Network of Constitutional Lawyers’ (ANCL) Working Group on Social and Economic Rights in Africa (SERIA) will be hosting a one-day conference on Wednesday 8 September 2010 in Cape Town focussing on tracking progress in the protection of socio-economic rights in Africa. The aim of the conference is to promote discourse on the effective protection and promotion of socio-economic rights in the continent, with particular focus on the African Charter and its draft guidelines.  Abstracts are invited for consideration. 

More information:

For further information please email Kristina Bentley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit SERIA’s webpages.

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Global South Scholar-in-Residence programme

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland is pleased to announce the creation of a Global South Scholar-in-Residence programme. As part of this programme, academics from Africa, Asia and Latin America will be invited to the Institute for a period of one semester.

Candidates are invited to apply to the programme. Successful applicants will be able to take advantage of their period in residence to update their teaching curricula, participate in teaching courses, further their research projects and contribute to enriching the intellectual life of the Institute.

Priority will be given to university teachers – with a preference for women and junior academics – who will seek to apply the benefits of their stay at the Institute upon returning to their own institutions.


  • 1 October 2010 for the spring semester
  • 1 March 2010 for the autumn semester

For more information please go to http://graduateinstitute.ch/corporate/in_residence.html

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 10: The indivisibility of human rights

 Constitutional scholars generally distinguish among three major categories of human rights – classical liberties (status negativus), political rights (status activus) and rights to state benefits (status positivus). However, the position of each of these categories in the national constitutions and in international documents is not identical. Accordingly, classical liberties and political rights have had a long tradition and rather satisfactory means of protection. In contrast, rights to state benefits have been guaranteed only subsequently. They are usually called second generation rights. In the meantime, such rights have been complemented by so called third generation rights, such as the rights to environment and to solidarity.

After World War II, the importance of second and third generation rights has increased considerably both at the level of national constitutional law and at the level of international protection of human rights. Nevertheless, the means of protection of these new rights is significantly different compared to classical liberties that merely require state abstention from interference. As a result, constitutional scholars call into question the status of second generation rights as true “rights” and examine their relationship with first generation rights and possible situations of conflict.

Against this backdrop, this workshop will explore the following issues:

  • The status of the indivisibility of human rights – Is the indivisibility of human rights part of a general theory of fundamental rights or rather a principle of positive constitutional/international law? In the latter case, do national Constitutions and international texts recognize this principle, implicitly or explicitly, or rather do they opt for a model of protection that is exclusively oriented towards classical liberties and political rights?
  • The scope of the indivisibility of human rights – Does the indivisibility of human rights concern all individual rights or is it limited to certain categories, such as social rights, rights constitutionally entrenched or the rights of citizens?
  • The autonomy of the indivisibility of human rights – Is the indivisibility of human rights an autonomous principle or does it emanate from other principles of constitutional or international law such as human dignity, the universalism of human rights or even equality before the law?
  • The consequences of the indivisibility of human rights – Does the recognition of the indivisibility of human rights provoke conflicts among different constitutional and international norms? Which rules govern the resolution of such conflicts? Do national Constitutions and international treaties directly rule the issue or merely doctrinal constructions developed by judicial bodies?

All these and similar questions can be addressed either from the perspective of national and comparative constitutional law or from the perspective of the international protection of human rights at both universal and regional levels. Particular emphasis will be placed on the practice of the organs charged with the implementation of constitutional and international documents. The indivisibility of human rights implies also the indivisibility and diversity of approaches presented in this workshop!

Professors Julia Iliopoulos-Strangas [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Cho Byung-Yoon [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

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IACL Research Group on “Cross-Judicial Fertilization – Use of Foreign precedents by Constitutional Judges”

The IACL Research Group on “Cross-Judicial Fertilization – Use of Foreign precedents by Constitutional Judges” will hold a meeting in Siena, Italy, to present the provisional results of the research and in preparation of workshop no 12, to be held at the IACL World Congress in Mexico City.


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 IACL research group on constitutionalism and secularism to hold workshop in Jerusalem, 24 April 2010

Professors Michel Rosenfeld and Susanna Mancini, convenors of the IACL research group on Constitutionalism and Secularism in an Age of Religious Revival, have issued an invitation to a workshop which will be held at the Hyatt-Regency Hotel, The Lechi St. no. 32 , Jerusalem, in the ALON Hall, on April 24th 2010,at 4 PM. 

The workshop coincides with the IACL roundtable on ‘Unconstitutional constitutional amendments’ to be held at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 25-26 April 2010. 

More details are available in the documents below:

For more information, please contact Professor Mancini [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 13: New Trends in Latin American Constitutional Law

 In the last few years Latin America has seen a strong development of the constitutional principles that characterize liberal democracies.  New constitutions have been enacted and the Constitutional and Supreme Courts have strengthened their role as guardians of the Constitution.  The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has enhanced its authority and improved its relationship with the national courts.

The time has therefore come for an overview of the latest trends in Latin American constitutionalism especially with regard to the form of government, the relationship between centralization and federalism and the protection of rights.  Having said this one cannot disregard the fact that in certain areas there is an enduring breach of the principles that distinguish constitutional states.

 The workshop calls for papers on the following topics:    

1. New Latin American Constitutionalism (1999-2009) from Venezuela to Bolivia:

  1. The evolution of presidentialism in Latin America;
  2. The debate on the introduction of parliamentary forms of government in some Latin American countries;
  3. Political parties and electoral systems in Latin America;
  4. Federalism and local government in Latin America.

2. Models and systems of constitutional adjudication in Latin America:

  1. Centralised and decentralised constitutional review;
  2. Influence of the Inter-American Human Rights Court on the national courts;

3. The protection of human rights in Latin American constitutions and the relationship with the Inter-American System:

  1. Space for economic and social rights;
  2. Limitation of rights: new trends for solving a recurrent endemic problem;
  3. Human development as a precondition to social democracy within the context of the rule of law;
  4. Implementation and upholding of economic, social and cultural rights in Latin America;
  5. Strategies for the improvement of legal-political integration in Latin America in relation to universal values such as human rights, sustainable development, democracy and political pluralism;
  6. Media protection in the context of the globalized world and in contemporary constitutional law. The role of social communication in Latin America and its restrictions in certain countries.

Professors Miguel Carbonnell [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.], Guiseppe de Vergottini [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Marcelo de Figueiredo [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 5: Subnational Constitutions

Workshop 5 will provide a forum for the analytical and comparative study of existing and developing subnational constitutions and constitution-like documents in component units. Emerging questions include:

  • what counts as a “constitution”;
  • how such constitutions differ from federal constitutions and each other;
  • how federal constitutions define the space allocated for subnational constitutions (constitutional competency) and methods of policing boundaries;
  • how subnational units have developed and changed their subnational constitutions;
  • whether, and why, component units have or have not utilized their constitutional competency;
  • What techniques of subnational constitutional judicial interpretation are used by national or subnational courts;
  • What are essential factors amongst national, supranational and subnational constitutions?
  • What are main differences in the perspective of constitutional philosophy between subnational constitutions and quasi-constitutions for subnational units?
  • What are explicitly different results for national courts to review subnational constitutions and national laws?

Challenging areas of interest also include analysis, comparison and preliminary evaluation of methods of replacing, revising, or amending subnational constitutions; constitutional politics at the subnational level; rights protections beyond those in the federal constitution; and processes of interpreting and enforcing subnational constitutions. Workshop 5 will encourage, support and make available the newly-developing literature and expertise of scholars and practitioners in subnational constitutional law. Workshop 5 will act as a clearinghouse for participants interested in subnational constitutions and, hopefully,  to explore mutual understanding and interests.

[ Spanish ]

Constituciones Subnacionales

 Taller 5 proporcionará un foro para el estudio analítico y comparativo de las constituciones y el desarrollo de la documentación y la constitución sub-nacional, como en las dependencias. Nuevas cuestiones se incluyen:

  • ¿Qué se considera una “Constitución”;
  • ¿Cómo las constituciones y las constituciones federales difieren de los otros;
  • ¿Cómo definir la constitución federal del espacio asignado para las constituciones subnacionales (autoridad constitucional) y los métodos de la policía de fronteras;
  • ¿Cómo subdivisiones han evolucionado y cambiado sus constituciones subnacionales;

Si y por qué las unidades componentes tienen o no han usado sus poderes constitucionales;

  • ¿Qué técnicas de la interpretación judicial subnacionales tribunales constitucionales son utilizados por los niveles nacional o subnacional;
  • ¿Cuáles son los factores clave entre las constituciones nacional, supranacional y subnacional?
  • ¿Cuáles son las principales diferencias en la perspectiva de la filosofía constitucional entre constituciones subnacionales y cuasi-constitución de las unidades subnacionales?
  • ¿Qué resultados están explícitamente diferentes para los tribunales nacionales para examinar las constituciones de las leyes nacionales y subnacionales?

Desafiando las áreas de interés incluyen el análisis, comparación y evaluación preliminar de los métodos alternativos de revisar o enmendar el sub constituciones; la política constitucional en el plano subnacional, la protección de los derechos más allá de las de la Constitución Federal y de los procesos de interpretación y aplicación de las constituciones subnacionales. Taller 5 alentar, apoyar y materiales a disposición de reciente desarrollo y experiencia de investigadores y profesionales en el derecho sub-constitucional. Taller 5 actuará como centro de intercambio para los participantes interesados en las constituciones de subnacionales y, con suerte, para explorar el entendimiento mutuo y los intereses.

Chairs / Coordinadores::
Professors Mo Jihong [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.], Robert Williams [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Francis Delpérée [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

Please address all queries in the first instance to Professor Murray

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 16: Constitutional Principles and Democratic Transition

By the second half of the twentieth century, the liberal democratic world had come to the conclusion that domestic constitutions ought to recognize some basic principles (such as human dignity, individual freedom, the non-retroactivity of criminal sanctions, the full availability of habeas corpus, etc.) that all self-respecting constitutional orders should include.

These constitutional principles became especially relevant when formerly authoritarian states in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa started their transition to democracy (around 1985-1995). After more than two decades since the process of democratic transition began it is worthwhile to reflect on the progress made by those countries with respect to the adoption and implementation of such principles. This workshop aims to do that, taking into account that those “new democracies” were quite inclined to adopt constitutional principles that have already developed in the “old democracies”. But, as experience of many countries has demonstrated, that was not always easy and often not attractive.

Against this background five principal questions arise:

  1. What was the role (if any) that “external principles” (like e.g. human dignity, rule of law, and – on methodological level – proportionality) played in the first period of democratic transition? Many “new democracies” were faced with a problem of “constitutional deficit”: the existing constitutions were no longer acceptable –due to their illiberal nature— but while new constitutions were still on the drawing board some urgent matters demanded a constitutional response (such as dealing with past human rights violations). For that interim period some general “norms/principles of reference” had to be elaborated and observed in the transition process.
  2. To what extent “new democracies” decided to supplement the traditional list of constitutional principles and to retain some (redrafted) principles and concepts adopted (or – at least – proclaimed) in their authoritarian constitutions? Did it result in certain enrichment of the traditional list? For example, can the principle of social justice, always regarded as one of the cornerstones of the “socialist constitutionalism”, be taken as one of the examples?
  3. In some instances, the nature of the transition to democracy (‘pacted’ transitions between the ‘old regime’ and the democratic one) precluded the new authorities from completely democratizing the constitutional order inherited from the authoritarian past, leaving even reformed constitutions with ‘authoritarian enclaves’? What problems have those situations created for those countries? Are there ways compatible with the existing constitutional order to change that? What are the dangers (and opportunities) involved in ‘bypassing’ the inherited constitutional order and attempt to replace it with one that is completely devoid from authoritarian legacy?
  4. To what extent process of democratic transition required some departure from the traditional constitutional principles and to what extent such departures could find legitimization in the quasi-revolutionary nature of that process?  As it is well known, necessities of so-called “transitional justice” may interfere with the principle of non-retroactivity and/or may justify establishment of new categories of “semi-criminal” proceedings (the so-called “lustration” being one of the prominent examples); necessities of economic transformation may encourage interventions into the structure of property and may warrant certain disregard to the “old” claims raised by those who once had been affected by nationalizations and expropriations. Transitions involve always some costs. The question, however, arises, what are limits of such compromises and when a critical point is reached when a democratic transition ceases to be democratic.    
  5. The general constitutional principles we have been commenting on took decades (if not centuries) to take hold in the consolidated constitutional democracies. What are the political, social and cultural challenges that transitional countries face in order to get a constitutional culture that respect those constitutional principles in such a relatively short period of time? Are there exemplary experiences from which other transitional countries could learn? What are the key lessons that can be drawn from such experiences?

These questions are not exhaustive. The workshop is open for all interested in any of constitutional problem of democratic transition.

Professors Lech Garlicki [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Javier Couso [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Institute of Federalism, based at the University of Fribourg, has announced a call for applications for its annual International Summer University which is in its 22nd year.

The Summer University is a 3 week course from August 23 to September 10, 2010 and provides participants with a unique opportunity to learn and experience the current state of scholarship and practice in the area of federalism, decentralisation and conflict resolution. This year the Institute will also offer an Internship Programme in Federalism for young persons from developing countries. This internship programme is a unique one and results from a joint effort between the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Governments, the Forum of Federations and the Institute of Federalism.

The Institute of Federalism, founded in 1984, has established itself as a centre of competence renowned worldwide in the field of federalism, state organization, democracy and human rights. The International Research and Consulting Centre (IRCC) is part of the Institute of Federalism of the University of Fribourg and focuses on research, international cooperation and knowledge exchange. Additionally the IRCC provides its expertise to States engaged in democratization or decentralisation processes in the form of consultancy, support for the strengthening of democracy, rule of law, power sharing and the protection of human or minority rights.

Advanced students of law, political sciences, economics or journalism are invited to submit their applications for the International Summer University by March 31, 2010.

More information:

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 7: Multiculturalism and the rights of Indigenous Peoples

In the wake of the UN’s adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, groups living on all continents are seeking the constitutional recognition of collective and individual rights based on the principle of “aboriginality” or “indigenousness”. Such indigenous claims raise very sensitive issues since they often challenge principles, values and interests which the constitutional order is otherwise designed to protect. Thus, indigenous groups often assert an ancestral title to vast tracts of land and natural resources that have become the property of the state or of private owners and that play a central role in the economic development of the nation. They also demand self-government and the protection of their distinctive identities and cultures. On a most fundamental level, these demands amount to a call for a redistribution of wealth, power, historical and cultural legitimacy within states that have a more or less distant colonial past. The recognition of special rights for ethno-cultural groups also raises the issue of their reconciliation with the state’s duty to safeguard fundamental individual rights, the equal rights of all citizens and national sovereignty.

Indigenous claims entertain an uneasy relationship with multiculturalism since indigenous peoples do not regard themselves as mere components of a diverse cultural mosaic that often results from immigration and constitutes the fabric of the national political community. Their stand is grounded in the historical exceptionality of first peoples and their unique quest for internal decolonization.

Constitutional practice regarding the status of indigenous peoples is currently quite varied. Many national constitutions already afford indigenous peoples ample recognition and provide for a substantial catalogue of indigenous rights, the most remarkable example of this trend being found in the new Bolivian constitution. In contrast, other constitutional systems are not receptive to indigenous claims. In some states, indigenous rights are implemented through ordinary legislation, administrative action or the common law but do not enjoy constitutional recognition and status.

This workshop will critically examine the challenges, the processes and the limits of the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights in modern democracies.

  • What constitutional principles justify or hamper such recognition?
  • Are federal systems better suited to accommodate indigenous claims? How do such systems adapt to such claims?
  • What is the impact of multiculturalism on the constitutional approach to aboriginality or indigenousness?
  • In countries where indigenous rights enjoy constitutional status, how does the fundamental law reconcile such collective rights with other cardinal components of the constitutional edifice such as the protection of fundamental individual rights, the equal rights of all citizens, the state’s asserted sovereignty over natural resources and national unity?
  • What is the substance of constitutionally acknowledged indigenous rights and what key constitutional principles or doctrines have been developed by the judiciary or constitutional courts with regard to the interpretation and the limitation of these rights? Do indigenous rights comprise and extend beyond ancestral practices?
  • Is constitutional jurisprudence influenced by international instruments and decisions taken by international bodies and courts with respect to indigenous claims? What has been in the Americas the influence of the recent jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights?
  • Does constitutional recognition lead to indigenous legal systems being treated as valid sources of law thus creating some degree of constitutional legal pluralism? How are state law and indigenous law coordinated?
  • What constitutional principles and rules govern the resolution of indigenous land claims and the exercise of indigenous self-government?

These are only some of the issues that participants might want to address from a comparative or national perspective.

Ghislain Otis [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.], Francisco Ibarra Palafox and Menaka Guruswamy.

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 18: Constitutional Implications of Regional Integration

The regional integration is with regard to constitutional issues challenged on the level of the international organization itself and second on the level of the constitutions of the member states. The following questions will first address the constitutional issues on the level of the international organization itself and then address the constitutional issue of the constitutions of the member states. One has of course to be aware of the fact that national and international issues are strongly linked with each other.

1. International Issues

  1. Can the concepts of “constitution” and “constitutionalism” be meaningfully applied to the treaty arrangements setting up regional organizations? What are the essential elements of constitution and constitutionalism at the supranational level?
  2. What are the concretes guarantees of the « democracy clause » in the process of regional and supranational integration?
  3. What are the concrete obligations of the universal principle of the Rule of Law to be respected in the process in the treaties of regional and supranational integration?
  4. To what extent does the universal principle “Constitutionalism” have to be respected even by international treaties establishing regional and supranational organizations?
  5. What are the possible Governmental systems on the level of regional and supranational organisations?
  6. What should be the interaction between regional and national parliaments?

2. National Issues

  1. Do constitutions of member states contain some main substantial values or principles which would limit any conclusion of a regional treaty. (e.g. no unlimited competences to be granted to the regional institutions)?
  2. Do national constitutions contain some substantial values which determine the constitutional identity and which can not be changed even with a regional treaty?
  3. Should a national constitution first be amended with regard to the membership (e.g. Art. 23 of the German constitution) of a regional organization and provide for a constitutional provision containing some basic principles to be implemented by the regional treaty and some guarantees provided for national democratic institutions such as information by the national government, approval or participation in the national or even regional decision making process? (cf. the decisions of the German Constitutional Court on the Lisbon Treaty and the treaty of Maastricht)
  4. Are there some specific issues to be taken into account by federations with regard e.g. to the representation of the federation in regional negotiations by federal units (cf. Germany and Belgium)?
  5. Should the national courts have some final control in order to limit ultra vires decisions of the regional institutions?
  6. With regard to federal countries: Should there be given some specific powers to the federal government in order to implement regional decisions which require implementation by federal units?

Thomas Fleiner Prof. ém. Université de Fribourg This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Daniel Sabsay, Universidad de Buenos Aires This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Rainer Grote Max Planck Institut für Ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 8: Federalism as a constitutional principle

This workshop is open to papers dealing with a wide range of questions about federalism and federal systems, focusing on or related in some way to the general question of constitutional principle.  Exemplary questions include the following:  

  • Is federalism a constitutional principle? If so,what is the content of the principle? How does it compare to other constitutional principles?  Or is federalism better conceived as an instrumental tool, used in compromises among different peoples or groups? 
  • What is the relationship between federalism and constitutionalism as principles?
  • What is the relationship between federalism and democracy?
  • If federalism is a constitutional principle, is it a principle of limitation, of empowerment, and/or of rights?
  • Are there “rights” that individuals have by virtue of constitutional principles of federalism?
  • Are there implications for constitutional development where, for example, a “federal” form is used in international or supranational governance? 
  • Can federal systems learn from each other’s experiences? If so, what? if not, why not?
  • What is the role of constitutional courts in enforcing or monitoring federalism-related principles or limitations? How does that role compare to judicial enforcement or monitoring of other constitutional principles or provisions

Olivier Beaud [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]; José Ma. Serna [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]; Vicki C Jackson [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 6: The rule of law in the age of terrorism

This workshop is convened upon the initiative by an IACL research group that was established in the Athens World Congress.  Between the Congresses, the research group convened, in November 2009, a two-day workshop where it discussed the particular constitutional challenges that relate to the operation of intelligence agencies and their oversight bodies in the fight against terrorism. The research group is chaired by Professor Martin Scheinin (European University Institute, Florence), who is also United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism. The coordinator of the research group is Dr. Konrad Lachmayer (University of Vienna).

Interested participants are invited to submit papers for the Mexico City workshop, for instance on the following themes:

  • Terrorism and principles of ethics – an oxymoron? The fight against terrorism poses severe legal questions many of which can also be addressed as ethical dilemmas: the practice of torture, targeted killing, the bombing of civilians in war, the distinction between consequences that are intended and those that are foreseen but unintended, to name but a few. This aspect call for papers dealing with the morality of military action against terror
  • Terrorism and proportionality – The principle of proportionality forms part of almost every national legal system.  In our workshop, we may discuss its function in human rights law, and also in the law of armed conflict. How do these quite different constructions affect the constitutional debate on proportionality in counter-terrorism?  Some of the specific questions that arise relate to use of force that causes civilian casualties, to the use of normally prohibited methods of interrogation, or to the risk that the proportionality principle undermines effective action against terrorism.
  • Preventing terrorism – this aspect focuses on the tools and means available in modern democracies in order to neutralize the basis of terrorism, and may deal with counter-terrorism measures, technology, international efforts and recommendations for governments.
  • The financing of terrorism –the instruments and rules enacted to fight the financing of terrorism: are they effective? Terrorist financing from a transnational perspective: Is an international clear guideline – or a “joint terrorist financial” database possible at all? What are the new developments and regulations on the efforts to linkage money laundering and financing of terrorism. The coordination needed between law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to combat terrorist finance- how it influences human rights protection?
  • Recent developments in couner-terrorism legislation – Constitutional rights and the constitutionality of counter-terrorism measures. Tension between freedom and security and comparative case-law; counter-terrorist laws which allows the banning of political parties who support terrorist acts and the use of violence.
  • International humanitarian law and the fight against terrorism- the concept of “terrorism” under international law: Is Terrorism an international crime? May the application of international humanitarian law constitute an obstacle to the fight against terrorism?  Or should it govern the fight against terrorism, pushing aside human rights law and constitutional rights?

These questions are not exhaustive. The workshop is open for all interested in any constitutional problem related to terrorism and the fight against it.

Professors Martin Scheinin [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Suzie Navot [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

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The Constitutional Jurisprudence and Judicial Method of the High Court of Australia-the Dixon, Mason and Gleeson Eras
Dr Rachael Gray

This book reviews the movements that have occurred in the High Court of Australia’s approach to constitutional issues during the eras of Chief Justices Dixon, Mason and Gleeson using the legal theory perspectives of legalism, realism and pragmatism. To date, the relevance of theoretical reasoning to Australian constitutional jurisprudence has received relatively little attention. Analysis of constitutional decisions has tended to focus on outcomes rather than method. Drawing significantly upon recent US writings in relation to legal pragmatism, the book provides a contemporary, comparative and analytical perspective on the manner in which theoretical perspectives can be used to understand and explain the movement of the High Court’s constitutional jurisprudence.

Further information:

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IACL World Congress, Mexico
Workshop 17: How ‘Comparative’ is Comparative Constitutional Law?

The past decade has witnessed a sharp comparative turn in legal scholarship. “We are all comparativists now” has become the motto of many jurists worldwide. The ever increasing interest among scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers in the laws and legal institutions of other countries is remarkable. This new interest is particularly striking in comparative constitutional law and the transnational migration of constitutional ideas.

From a relatively obscure and exotic subject studied by the devoted few, comparative constitutionalism has emerged as one of the more fashionable subjects in contemporary legal scholarship. However, despite the many scholarly advancements, the field of comparative constitutional law continues to lack coherent methodological and epistemological foundations. In fact, fundamental questions concerning the very purpose and rationale of comparative inquiry and how that enterprise is to be undertaken remain largely outside the purview of canonical constitutional law scholarship. This workshop will address some of the core epistemological and methodological questions the field is facing.

  • What is the aim or raison d’etre of comparative constitutional law? The very term “comparative constitutional law” often carries different meanings and sets of common practices for policy-makers, legislators, lawyers, judges, legal academics, and social scientists. Is it possible, necessary or useful to define a single aim?
  • What is the meaning of the “comparative” in comparative constitutional law? The term “comparative” is often used indiscriminately to describe what, in fact, are several different types of scholarship: (i) single-country “constitutional ethnographies” that are characterized as comparative mainly by virtue of dealing with any country other than the author’s own (since everyone is immersed in a given legal culture, studying another legal culture generates at least an implicit comparison with one’s own) (ii) genealogies and taxonomy of constitutional systems; (iii) surveys of foreign constitutional law aimed at finding the “best” or most suitable rule across cultures; (iv) comparative references aimed at engendering self-reflection through analogy, distinction, and contrast; (v) concept formation through multiple descriptions of the same constitutional phenomena across countries; and (vi) reliance on controlled comparison and inference-oriented case selection in order to assess change, explain dynamics, and make inferences about cause and effect through systematic case selection and analysis of data.
  • How reflective are methods of comparison of the analytical aims or intellectual goals of specific studies? What is the significance of the concrete research questions or thematic focus on determining the nature of the comparative approach used? Can or should we talk about a single agreed upon, “official” comparative method, or perhaps ensure that a rational, analytically adaptive connection exists between the research questions and the comparative methods used?
  • Is comparative constitutional law a sub-field of comparative law? Is it a sub-field of constitutional law? What would be the implications or consequences of treating it as sub-field of one or both of these areas of inquiry? Or is comparative constitutional law an altogether independent area of inquiry? Should it reflect doctrinalism and formalism, or perhaps engage more frequently with disciplines such as political science, sociology, history or economics? Is there a conceptual affinity between comparative constitutional law and other comparative disciplines (e.g. comparative politics, comparative literature, comparative religion, comparative psychology)?
  • What is the modern comparativist’s basic toolkit? Obvious candidates include pertinent linguistic and legal skills; detailed knowledge of foreign legal systems, jurisprudence, and legacies (as opposed to a sketchy acquaintance with two dozen foreign cases); familiarity with basic comparative methodologies, quantitative and qualitative (as opposed to a methodology-light approach to comparative law scholarship); the ability to remain constantly informed about often under-reported legal and constitutional developments overseas (as opposed to a Montesquieu-like selective reliance on secondary and easily attainable sources that all too often adhere to the author’s normative predispositions and support his or her arguments); cultural sensitivity; the willingness to spend lengthy periods of time doing fieldwork in less than dazzling conditions (as opposed to “armchair” anthropology research carried out with little or no fieldwork or systematic data collection). Should scholars of comparative constitutional law aspire to develop these skills even if it appears unrealistic to master all of them?
  • How significant is the tension between universalism and particularism in the study of comparative constitutional law? Do proponents of universalism tend to overemphasize similarities? Do advocates of contextualism incline to over-emphasize differences? Are there areas of constitutional law (say, rights) where contextualist concerns may be less powerful (and hence comparisons are more beneficial) as opposed to other areas (say, aspirational or organic features of the constitution) where idiosyncrasies and contingencies may have more of a bite?
  • What is the effect of the rapid development of information technology, and the tremendous improvement in quality and accessibility of data sources on constitutional systems and jurisprudence worldwide on the way comparative constitutional inquiries are (or ought to be) pursued? In particular, thanks to the accessible, rich body of pertinent information, it is now possible – perhaps for the first time – to engage in serious, methodologically astute, dialogue between ideas and evidence, theory and data, normative claims and empirical analysis. And related to that, what, if any, has been or should be the impact of what has been termed “the new legal realism” and “empirical legal studies” on the way comparative constitutional inquiries are pursued?
  • How “comparative” is a field whose canonical authors and venues often draw on the constitutional experience of a dozen, mostly liberal democratic countries, but seldom refer to the constitutional experience, law and institutions elsewhere? Is this (or should it be) a concern? Should this qualify or limit the applicability of canonical scholarship or perhaps point to the relativism of purportedly universal lessons drawn from oft-studied settings?

Professors Ran Hirschl (University of Toronto) and Constance Grewe (Université de Strasbourg).

Queries about this call for submissions should be sent to Professor Hirschl [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.].

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IACL World Congress, Mexico
Workshop 3: Media and Constitutional Principles

The general topic of Workshop 2 should rely on the following presumptions:

  1. The word ‘media’ include any kind of mediatic communication (newspaper, broadcasting, internet, and so on);
  2. The development and diversification of media within a specific constitutional context depends on whether and to what extent freedoms of expression and of communications are ensured within there. 

 The general topic may include the following questions:

  1. The development and diversification of media reflects values such as liberty and democracy lying at the core of constitutionalism, and is crucial both for the formation and information of citizens-electors. On the other hand, media exert a huge albeit informal power not only on representations of the public sphere but also on political agenda. What kind of problems does this double function of media pose for the constitutional conceptions?
  2. The dilemma exposed under a) may correspond to a paradox in contemporary States, according to their authoritarian or democratic foundations. While in the former media are strongly restricted through censorship and other limitations, and are perceived from an increasing part of the people as necessary means for liberty and democracy, in the latter media, whose freedom is constitutionally protected, are sometimes believed to disseminate conformism, or at least to discourage free formation of diverse representations and opinions. This perception, however, is considered irrelevant from other scholars on constitutional grounds, to the extent that it is just the consequences of the exertion of freedom of expression, not the encroachment on the principle itself. Should constitutionalists restrain themselves from inquiring into these consequences? If not, which solutions might be envisaged for enhancing diversity of representations and opinions on the mediatic scene?         
  3. Mediatic instruments, however, function very differently one from another and stimulate different reactions on the receiver in terms of her capability of interacting, and therefore on the public at large. For example, while the television is usually expected to bring about rather passive reactions, the web’s functioning is founded on interactions with the receiver, with the related enthusiasm of some about ‘e-democracy’. Should these differences among media be taken into account in constitutional discourses, and how?   
  4. The ‘personalization’, if not ‘presidentialisation’, of politics, which democracies have been experimenting in the last decades together with the decline of political parties and parliaments, is frequently believed to be caused, at least partially, by media. Do you agree with this view, and if so, which consequences do you think are likely to be brought about on the meaning of parliamentary representation and of the separation-of-powers principle?    
  5. Even the functioning of the judiciary is frequently believed to be influenced by  media. In particular, the impact on judicial decisions of mediatically driven  perceptions of the people is believed to endanger the rule of law. If so, how could constitutionalism cope with such a difficulty?
  6. Media are believed to play a crucial role in the dissemination of perceptions, ways of life and opinions at the global scale, irrespective of the fact that constitutional democracies have developed at the national scale. Does this amount to a further challenge (or opportunity) for constitutionalism?

Professors Yasuo Hasebe [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Cesare Pinelli [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Yasuo Hasebe is Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Tokyo; and vice-president of the International Association of Constitutional Law.

His publications include ‘Il Sistema Radiotelevisivo’, Prometeo, Anno 13, Numero 49 (1995); ‘The August Revolution Thesis and the Making of the Constitution of Japan’, Rechtstheorie, Beiheft 17 (1997); ‘Constitutional Borrowing and Political Theory’, International Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2003); ‘The Rule of Law and Its Predicament’, Ratio Juris, Vol. 17, No. 4 (2004); ‘The Reception of the Rechtsstaat Concept in Japan’, National Taiwan University Law Review, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2009); and ‘On the Dispensability of the Concept of Constituent Power’, Indian Journal of Constitutional Law’, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2009).

Cesare Pinelli is Professor of Public Law in the Faculty of Law of the University of Rome “Sapienza”.

Member of the EC of the IACL since January 2004. Former member of the EC of the Italian Association of Constitutional Lawyers (2001-2003). Aggregate member of the Association of Constitutional Law of Argentina.  Expert of the “Commission for Democracy through Law” – Council of Europe. Law clerk before the Italian Constitutional Court from 1987 to 1990. Member of various Commissions of National Departments (1989-2007) and of the National Authority for the regulation of strikes in public services (2000-2002).

Author of seven books in Italian and various essays in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German, among which:

Profils de droit constitutionnel et communautaire des privatisations des services publics en Italie et en France, in Annuaire International de Justice Constitutionnelle, 1993; Judicial Protection of Human Rights in Europe and the Limits of a Judge-Made System, in Il diritto dell’Unione europea, 1997; Political Accountability and Global Markets, in European Review of Public Law, 1997; Le principe de subsidiarité et les sources du droit communautaire, in La méthodologie de l’étude des sources du droit, Aix-enProvence, 2001; Secret du vote et apprentissage de la démocratie. Les débats et la pratique italienne entre 1848 et 1912, in Revue française de droit constitutionnel, 2001; Los Presidentes de las Asembleas, in Anuario de derecho constitutional y parlamentario, 2000-2001; Conditionality and Enlargement in Light of EU Constitutional Developments, in European Law Journal, 2004; Federal features of the EU Constitutional Treaty Draft, in A.Griffith (ed.), Handbook of Federal Countries, 2005, Montreal, 2005; Os interpretes da Constituiçao e as funçoes da Teoria Constitucional, in Revista brasileira de direito constitutional, 2005; The 1948 Italian Constitution and the 2006 Referendum in European Constitutional Law Review, 2006;

In Search of Coherence in EU Foreign Policy, in The International Spectator, 2007; (with M.Dogliani), Grundlagen und Grundzuge staatlichen Verfassungsrechts : Italien, in Handbuch Ius Publicum Europaeum, I, Muller Verlag, Heidelberg, 2007; Conditionality, in Max Planck Institute of Public International Law, 2009

Please see further:

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IACL World Congress, Mexico
Workshop 12: Foreign Law: Jurisprudence Fertilization

The workshop topic:

The use of foreign case law (and not of foreign constitution or foreign legislation) by constitutional courts is the object of the workshop.

“Constitutional Courts” means specialised Constitutional Courts, in the countries that follow the “Kelsenian model” of judicial review. It includes Supreme Courts which decide on constitutional cases in the countries that follow the “American model” of judicial review.

A constitutional case is a case that involves the “constitutional interpretation” and that deals both with “institutional” and “human rights” issues.

The use of international case law is not included in the research, except if the country is not a party of the treaty because in this case there is not a hierarchical relationship between national and international or supranational institutions (for example, the use of ECHR by the US Supreme Court or by the High Court of Australia).

The aims of the workshop:

The research  proposed touches on a very productive area of studies, particularly in recent years, focused on the influence of comparative law (or, shall one say, foreign law) on court decisions, that is the main feature of the “new comparativism.” The literature on this matter is growing vast, mainly in the English-speaking world, where these studies are long-established and deep-rooted. In the last few years, these studies have benefited from the contrasting impact of two courts, which are currently under global scrutiny for a different set of reasons. On one hand, attention is focused on the approach, that range “from indifferent to hostile”, exhibited by the majority within the United States Supreme Court with regard to direct citation of foreign precedents (See Printz v. U.S., 521 U.S. 898 (1997), Knight v. Florida 528 U.S. 990 (1999),  Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), Foster v. Florida 537 U.S. 990 (2002); Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005)). On the other, on the openness of South African Constitutional Court towards foreign decisions, also as a result of the rule contained in Section 39 of the Constitution, according to which: “When interpreting the Bill of Rights, a court, tribunal or forum: … may consider foreign law”. Non English-speaking commentators have not focused as intensely on this matter. Indeed, the absence within civil law legal systems of a catalyzing factor, such as the Privy Council, or of a common language, together with the preference for a less-articulated reasoning, has significantly reduced the use of foreign precedents.

More recently, however, civil law commentators have showed a growing interest in the so-called “cross-judicial fertilization,” as a consequence of many elements, such as the ongoing debate in English-speaking systems, the process of European integration, the propensity displayed by some Constitutional courts to quote foreign precedents in their decisions. Most commentators, whether English-speaking or not, focus on the arguments favoring or opposing the use of foreign jurisprudence as a method of constitutional interpretation. Just a few studies have made an attempt to catalog the different approaches adopted by constitutional (or supreme) courts in their use of foreign law and jurisprudence.

The workshop is aimed to fill this lack of attention to the empirical experience. In particular:

  • We would like to clarify the very controversial issue of the use of foreign case law (that very often is an easy argument in favor of the anticomparativism) by improving the empirical research;
  •  We would like to check the reality of the thesis of the transjudicial dialogue between courts;
  •  We would like to check the reality of the thesis of the convergence of the common law and civil law traditions.

 To these aims, we would like very much to encourage scholars to submit papers on national experiences of case-law, or papers on specific topics analyzed by a comparative point of view.

Professors Tania Groppi (Université de Sienne) [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Marie-Claire Ponthoreau (Université de Bordeaux) [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

Please see further:

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IACL World Congress, Mexico
Workshop 14

The principle of separation of powers reviewed

Papers may deal with one or more of the following, indicative series of questions:

The meaning accorded to the principle of separation of powers, including questions related to justification/ philosophical foundations, transformations throughout history, the understanding as “separation” or “checks and balances”.

 Different designs of the “principle” and their strength and problems, including

  • Vertical separation of powers between the constituent power and the constituted powers
  • Horizontal separation of powers between constituted powers including the relationship between Parliament and the Executive, Parliament and/or the Executive and the Judiciary (judicial review), different bodies within a bi- or multi-cameral parliamentary system, different bodies within the Executive branches of government, different branches of the Judiciary (constitutional vs. “ordinary”), etc., and
  • Territorial separation of powers between the Federation/Central state and sub-national entities (states, regions, municipalities …)

Questions mainly regarding multi-level government regarding the relationship between Nation-states and institutions based upon international public law (the United Nations, the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights, etc.) will not be accepted.

Please see further:

Workshop chairs:

Within our three-fold partnership, Charles Manga FOMBAD has a particular responsibility for papers written in English, Antonio María HERNANDEZ for those written in Spanish and Eivind SMITH for those written in French.  See biographies of the chairs.   

Please address all queries in the first instance to Professor Eivind Smith.

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IACL World Congress, Mexico
Workshop 9: Proportionality as a constitutional principle

The proportionality principle may be applied to reconcile conflicting constitutional provisions, either as a precondition for the application of a constitutional principle or as a free-standing constitutional requirement.

Where proportionality provides a justification of the limitation of a right or a freedom, it may be found in the constitutional text (for example in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 1789, on the subject of the imposition of a penalty or interference with property rights). However, a constitutional court may apply the proportionality principle even in the absence of any express constitutional provision to that effect.

Proportionality enables the courts to develop a hierarchy of fundamental rights and liberties, or a hierarchy of those rights and liberties and public interests.

Proportionality may also be raised by a court as a principle which the legislature should respect quite independently of any need to reconcile constitutional principles with one another.

The principle is also applied by the European Court of Human Rights for the purposes of the margin of appreciation allowed to states in applying the Convention.

Against this background a number of issues arise:

  • What is the extent of the court’s power in applying the proportionality principle? Is it limited or unlimited?
  • Could the proportionality principle justify a court interfering with the legislative function to the extent of determining substantively where the public interest lies?
  • Could the proportionality principle undermine a judicial system that is supposed to be based on common values by substituting for it a system based on reaching a consensus as to different concurrent values.
  • Does the application of the proportionality principle enhance the discretionary functions of the court, so that giving effect to substantive legislative requirements becomes secondary to consideration of the rationality of challenged decisions.
  • Are there any non-derogable principles, i.e. principles which are not subject to proportionality review?
  • Does the principle of proportionality guarantee to states a degree of freedom of action under the European Convention of Human Rights, or is the principle designed to limit the freedom of action of states in deciding how to give effect to Convention rights?
  • How is the principle of proportionality given effect by constitutional courts? Do its effect depend upon the kind of review (abstract, concrete, ex ante, ex post, by way of appeal from an inferior court or the exercise of original jurisdiction by a constitutional court)?

These questions are not exhaustive. The workshop is open to those interested in these and other approaches to proportionality in constitutional law.

Professors Bertrand Mathieu [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Dawn Oliver [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

Please see further:

SIPE Conference
The Soft Law of the European Organisations
Strasbourg, 11 - 12 June 2010

SIPE (Societas Iuris Publici Europaei), the organisation of European public law scholars, is holding its seventh annual conference in Strasbourg on 10 to 12 June.  The theme of the conference is “The Soft Law of the European Organisations“.

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The UK Constitutional Law Group has organised three seminars for this term. They will all take place at the Faculty of Laws, UCL, Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens, London WC1H 0EG from 5.00-7.00pm

Monday February 8th
The Revised Constitution of the French Fifth Republic

Sophie Boyron, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Birmingham
Alison Young, Lecturer, Hertford College, Oxford University.

Thursday February 25th
‘The Purity of Elections: Continuing Causes for Concern’.

Stuart Wilks-Heeg, Director Democratic Audit and Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Liverpool.
Matthew Oliver, Coordinator, Unlock Democracy’s Stamp out Voting Fraud Campaign

 Monday March 8th
‘Academic Freedom’.

Professor Malcolm Grant, CBE, Provost and President of University College London
Professor Eric Barendt, Faculty of Laws, UCL

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Call for papers: The Internationalisation of Constitutional Law

The African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL) will hold its Annual Conference in Rabat, Morocco on 2-5 February 2011.  The theme of the conference is ‘The internationalisation of Constitutional Law’.

More information:

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IXth meeting of the Council of the IACL

All members of the IACL are cordially invited to attend the IXth meeting of the Council of the Association, to be held at the Palacio de Minería, Mexico City, Wednesday 8 December 2010 at 16h00.

More information:

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Executive Committee of the IACL 2011-2014

At its meeting in Mexico City on 8 December 2010, the Council of the IACL elected the following persons as members of the Executive Committee for a period of four years.

President | Président

  • Martin Scheinin (Finland | Finlande)

First Vice-President | Premier Vice-Président

  • Héctor Fix Fierro (Mexico | Mexique)

Vice-Presidents | Vice-Présidents

  • Nadia Bernoussi (Morocco | Maroc)
  • Lech Garlicki (Poland | Pologne)
  • Yasuo Hasebe (Japan | Japon)
  • Claude Klein (Israel | Israël)
  • Christina Murray (South Africa | Afrique du Sud)
  • Eivind Smith (Norway | Norvège)

Members | Membres

  • Eva Brems (Belgium | Belgique)
  • Gianni Buquicchio * (Venice Commission | Commission de Venise)
  • José Manuel Cepeda (Colombia | Colombie)
  • Chong Jong-sup (Korea | Corée)
  • Javier Couso (Chile | Chili)
  • Rohan Edrisinha (Sri Lanka)
  • Marcelo Figueiredo (Brazil | Brésil)
  • Charles Fombad (Cameroon | Cameroun)
  • Javier Garcia Roca (Spain | Espagne)
  • Jean-Francois Gaudreault Des-Biens (Canada)
  • Menaka Guruswamy (India | Inde)
  • Vicki Jackson (United States | Etats-Unis)
  • Juliane Kokott (Germany | Allemagne)
  • César Landa (Peru | Pérou)
  • Miguel Poiares Maduro (Portugal)
  • Bertrand Mathieu (France)
  • Djedjro Meledje (Côte d’Ivoire)
  • Mo Jihong (China | Chine)
  • Andrew Le Sueur (United Kingdom | Royaume-Uni)
  • Susanna Mancini (Italy | Italie)
  • Enyinna Nwauche (Nigeria | Nigéria)
  • Ergun Özbudun (Turkey | Turquie)
  • Raul Pangalangan (Philippines)
  • Adrienne Stone (Australia | Australie)
  • Elena-Simina Tănăsescu (Romania | Romanie)

Secretary-General | Secrétaire général

  • Iain Currie (South Africa | Afrique du Sud)

Deputy Secretary-General | Secrétaire général adjoint

  • Norman Taku (South Africa | Afrique du Sud)

* Mr Buquicchio, the President of the Venice Commission, is a member by right of the Executive Committee in accordance with the co-operation agreement between the Commission and the IACL.

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New IACL research group launched: Constitutional studies of free trade and political economy

Under the direction of Prof Gonzalo Villalta Puig of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) has convened a Research Group for the promotion of Constitutional Studies of Free Trade and Political Economy. This research group assembles an international panel of researchers to permit a comparative yet analytical approach to the study of Economic Constitutional Law.

The research agenda and activities of the group start from the premise that free trade constitutionalises the political economy of jurisdictions. Free trade is a norm that conceives the trade in goods, services, labour, and capital among or within sovereign states as a flow without government discrimination.

The establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) suggests that global systems of political economy have the constitutional norm of free trade at their foundation. The European Union (EU), for example, and other regional and sub-regional systems also have that normative foundation. It is an implicit assumption that local systems have that normative foundation too. The assumption holds true for unitary states. It also holds true for the United States of America, Commonwealth of Australia, Dominion of Canada, Republic of India, Federal Republic of Germany, Kingdom of Belgium, Federal Republic of Brazil, United Mexican States, Argentine Republic, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Malaysia, and other federal, con-federal (Swiss Confederation), quasi-federal (Kingdom of Spain), and non-unitary states.

However, unlike unitary jurisdictions, non-unitary jurisdictions rely on a constitutional guarantee of free movement of goods, services, labour and capital among their constituent states. That guarantee is not always reliable because its judicial interpretation is subject to multiple considerations: doctrinal, practical, political, economic, and other. It is, therefore, the mission of constitutional courts in non-unitary jurisdictions to reconcile their sometime contradictory jurisprudence with the constitutional norm of free trade.

The successes and the failures of that mission can assist supranational and international jurisdictions to further develop their preferential and free trade areas, customs unions, single markets, and economic and monetary unions. Conversely, the free trade jurisprudence of supranational and international jurisdictions can assist the mission of constitutional courts in non-unitary jurisdictions to further develop their political economies. Thus, the judicial interpretation of the constitutional freedom of interstate trade comprises a valuable and viable subject of analytical and comparative study.

Further to that research hypothesis, the research thesis and the subject of the research agenda and activities of the group is that the free trade jurisprudence of supranational and international jurisdictions is significant to the constitutional development of the political economy of non-unitary jurisdictions and vice versa.

The research group promotes analytical and comparative studies of the constitutional regime of the WTO as the only international jurisdiction in the area of trade and commerce, the EU, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Central American Integration System (SICA), Andean Community, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and other supranational single markets and economic and monetary unions, and the constitutions of the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Nigeria, Malaysia, and other non-unitary markets.

Membership of the research group gives scholars the opportunity to undertake analytical and comparative research projects on Economic Constitutional Law and develop the discipline at a global level through the exchange and transfer of their collective expertise. Members then have the opportunity to collaborate with the very best scholars of Economic Constitutional Law in other jurisdictions: federal, con-federal, quasi-federal, supranational, and international.

The research group welcomes constitutional and public law scholars everywhere with a research interest in Economic Constitutional Law, International Economic Law, Trade and Commercial Law, and (Comparative) Federalism and Federal Political Systems and inter-disciplinary interests in Political Science and Economics. In that respect, the research group endeavours to work closely with the Society of International Economic Law (SIEL) and the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS) as well as the Forum of Federations and its Global Dialogue on Federalism program.

The research group functions within but, nevertheless, autonomously of the IACL in accordance with its own rules and timetables. It endeavours to assemble at the IXth World Congress of the IACL and regularly in the meantime but otherwise maintains a permanent online dialogue as it develops new research projects: workshops, collections, surveys.


Dr Gonzalo Villalta Puig
Professor of Law
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: http://www.law.cuhk.edu.hk/people/villalta-puig-gonzalo.php

[Dr Gonzalo Villalta Puig is a Professor of Law at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Convenor of the IACL Research Group for Constitutional Studies of Free Trade and Political Economy. A Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, he is also a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of Australia and a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. A specialist in Economic Constitutional Law, Prof Villalta Puig researches the role of constitutional courts in the constitutionalisation of free trade in non-unitary, supranational, and international jurisdictions. Prof Villalta Puig has a particular research interest in the economic constitutions of the European Union and Commonwealth of Australia and the law and practice of trade relations between the two.]

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Call for papers: Symposium on Religious Rights and Freedoms, Johannesburg 15-16 September 2011

SAIFAC (a centre of the University of Johannesburg) together with the Faculty of Law, University of the Free State and Jutas are delighted to announce a call for papers for a Symposium on Religious Rights and Freedoms.   

Abstracts must be submitted by 3 May 2011. The conference will be held between 15-16 September 2011 at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg.

More information:

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Provisional programme of the IACL round table, Xi’an, 23 to 27 October 2011

The next Roundtable of the IACL will take place in Xi’an, China, October 23 to 27. Additional discussions will take place in Macau and Hong Kong, following the Xi’an portion of the Roundtable. 

The general topic of the Roundtable concerns Positive Social Rights (Social Security) and Comparative Constitutional Law.  It is planned to have panels on

  1. The Conception and Historical Development of Rights to Social Security - confirmed participants include Professors Tong Zhiwei (Chinese Association of Constitutional Law), Didier Maus (member of the Conseil d’Etat, France, and former President, IACL), Wang Xigen (Wuhan University), and Christian Starck (University of Göttingen, Germany); 
  2. The Right to Social Security and International Conventions on Human Rights -  confirmed participants include Professors Wang Lei (Peking University), Lidija Basta (University of Belgrade), Zhu Guobin (Hong Kong City University), and Lech Garlicki (European Court of Human Rights);
  3. Institutional Aspects of Social Security and the Rule of Law: China and Comparative Constitutional Perspectives - confirmed participants include Professors Zhang Qianfan (Peking University), Vicki Jackson (Georgetown University), Lin Laifan (Tsinghua University), Rainer Arnold (University of Regensburg, Germany); and
  4. Social Security, Constitutional Rights and Constitutional Protection - confirmed participants include Professors Hu Jinguang (Chinese Association of Constitutional Law), Eivind Smith (University of Oslo), and Dong Heping (Northwest Politics & Law University). Other speakers will include Professor Martin Scheinin, of EUI (Florence, Italy) and President of the IACL, and Professors Han Dayuan, President of the Chinese Association of Constitutional Law, Mo Jihong, first Vice President of the Chinese Association of Constitutional Law, and Professor Hector Fix-Fierro, of UNAM, Mexico, and first vice-president of the IACL. This program is still somewhat tentative and additional speakers, not yet confirmed, are being invited.

Because space is quite limited, we wanted to let our membership know about this event early.  If you are interested in attending, please be in touch by email with:

Iain Currie
Secretary General of the IACL
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Professor Mo Jihong
First Vice President of the Chinese Association of Constitutional Law and member of the Executive Committee of the IACL
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

to enquire about whether space is available and whether the necessary arrangements can be made.  Because of the tight space limitations and the time needed to make necessary arrangements for additional attendees, please do so by NO LATER THAN JUNE 20, 2011, to express your interest. You will then be promptly notified whether a place has been reserved for you. Please note that additional attendees will need to be able to pay for their own travel and hotel accommodation.

Constitutional responses to terrorism: Milan workshop December 1-2, 2011

The IACL research group on Constitutional Responses to Terrorism will hold a workshop at Bocconi University, Milan on 1-2 December 2011.  The theme of the workshop is “Secrecy, National Security and the Vindication of Constitutional Law”.

More information:

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Intercultural workshop on democracy: Marrakech, 29-30 March 2012

1er Atelier interculturel sur la démocratie « Processus constitutionnels et processus démocratiques, les expériences et les perspectives »
Marrakech, 29-30 mars 2012

L’atelier est co-organisé par l’Association marocaine de droit constitutionnel, la Commission de Venise du Conseil de l’Europe, l’AIDC et le Conseil constitutionnel du Royaume du Maroc avec la collaboration de la Fondation d’Allemagne Hanns Seidel

More information:

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Constitutional Design: Seminar in Helsinki 21-22 May 2012

A seminar on Constitutional Design, co-organised by the IACL, the Venice Commission, the Centre for Excellence in Foundations of European Law and Polity of the University of Helsinki and the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, will take place in Helsinki on  21-22 May 2012.

More information:

Constitutional responses to terrorism: Workshop, Sydney 13-14 December 2012

The IACL research group on Constitutional Responses to Terrorism, in collaboration with the Gilbert & Tobin Centre of Public Law at the University of New South Wales, will hold its next workshop in Sydney, Australia on 13-14 December 2012. 

The title of the workshop is “States of Surveillance: Counter-Terrorism and Comparative Constitutionalism”.

More information:


event 16 jun 2014

World Congress: 16 - 20 June 2014
Oslo, Norway

The IACL holds a World Congress every 3-4 years. The IXth Congress will take place in Oslo from 16 to 20 June 2014 and is organised by the Department of Public Law at the University of Oslo in collaboration with the Executive Committee of the IACL.
The venue for the Congress is the historic Main Building of the University of Oslo, which is in the centre of the city.The Congress will take place just one month after the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution which today stands as the second-oldest written Constitution in the world.
It is expected that between 300 and 500 participants will attend the Congress, from all regions of the world.The working languages of the Congress are French and English and simultaneous translation will be provided in plenary sessions.The IACL uses two principal formats for the scholarly programme of a World Congress: plenary sessions and workshops.
Plenary sessions are open to all participants while workshops are smaller and discussion-based. There will be four plenary sessions in this Congress, each of which lasts for 3½ hours. 

newsletter feb 2013

IACL Newsletter
February 2013

A Word from the President
First of all, let me wish Happy New Year to all readers of this first IACL Newsletter of 2013.
Now that we are in the New Year, it is to be noted that the IACL is already beyond the half-way point between its 8th and 9th Congresses. In November 2012, the Executive Committee (EC) confirmed the decision to have the next Congress in Oslo, Norway, from 16 to 20 June 2014. In the same EC meeting, discussion arose on how to improve internal democracy within the IACL.
Indeed, what could be a better time to discuss that question than now, less than one and a half years to the next Congress? There are a number of factors that make the issue more complex than presumed, also related to how the IACL has been developing during the last decade.
Originally, national associations formed the backbone of the IACL, so that the EC could legitimately be said to consist of ‘representatives’ of national associations. Today, we have many more individual members than before, we have regional networks, and some national associations have become dormant or perhaps fairly closed ‘clubs’, when compared to the broader constitutional law debates in the same countries.
Another traditional feature of the IACL has been its reliance on our ‘elders’ who have made remarkable contributions in the setting up and consolidation of the organisation. But is this reliance on seniority and tradition appealing to new generations of constitutionalists who may wish to turn a new page?
Together with individual membership, the creation of semi-autonomous thematic research groups has opened up new ways of participating in the life of the IACL. How should this affect the decisionmaking structures of the organisation?
Finally, the rapid evolution of the Internet and new social media has resulted in a situation where direct global participation in the day-to-day life of the IACL has become a real possibility, at least as far as technology is concerned.
As President, I have just reached out to some of the younger (newer) members of the EC, asking them to prepare short discussion papers about what internal democracy in the IACL could mean. The
matter is therefore on the agenda of the next EC meeting on 15 April 2013 in Rio de Janeiro. Hopefully we will be able to agree on a course of action, so that eventual changes in the modus operandi of the IACL can be made in the Oslo Congress.
Some of the questions to be addressed in Rio will be whether a process towards amending the IACL Statutes in Oslo will be launched, and whether a traditional Nominations Committee will be set up to prepare the elections of a new EC and IACL officials in Oslo. One idea aired in the New York meeting was to move to an open process for nominating candidates for various positions. This and many other ideas will merit careful consideration.
In closing, I would like to welcome the active input of all IACL members, as a truly participatory process is of course the best way to ensure that we come to good solutions that will bear fruit in the years and decades to come. Please enjoy reading the IACL Newsletter, and all the best for 2013!
Martin Scheinin

newsletter july 2013

IACL Newsletter
July 2013

A Word from the President

This issue of the IACL Newsletter focuses on the 9th World Congress of Constitutional Law, to be convened in Oslo, Norway, 16 to 20 June 2014. At the IACL we have been working hard to put together a topical and interesting programme of plenary sessions and workshops. The Congress website, hosted by the University of Oslo as the local organiser, is up and running at http:// www.uio.no/wccl. All IACL members and other readers of this Newsletter are adviced to utilise that website for updates and other useful information on the Congress. For the sake of convenience, we are also publishing the basic information here.

Another important event in the life of the IACL is the change of its Secretary-General. After several years of devoted service, Professor Iain Currie decided to step down due to moving to full-time legal practice in South Africa. In its April meeting in Rio de Janeiro, the Executive Committee granted him a leave of absence until the Oslo Congress and unanimously elected Professor David Bilchitz as Secretary-General ad interim. On behalf of the whole IACL, I want to give our wholehearted thanks to Iain and congratulate David upon his election.

I encourage you to register for the World Congres and look forward to meeting you in Oslo!

Martin Scheinin

iacl news nov 2014

IACL Newsletter
November 2013

A Word from the President

Preparations for the IACL’s Oslo Congress of June 2014 received a boost when the local organiser managed to secure separate funding to support participants from low and middle income countries.

This will greatly enhance the possibilities of making the Congress into an inclusive event that reflects the true diversity of the IACL and the wider community of constitutionalists of the world.

Further particulars are given elsewhere in this Newsletter. The IACL Executive Committee met in Florence (Italy) on 19 October 2013 and decided about a number of reform initiatives. Only two of them can be mentioned here:

  • The IACL website will soon launch a blog section with regular contributions from people in different parts of the world and in three languages (English, French and Spanish).
  • The election of IACL officials and a new Executive Committee during the Oslo Congress will be prepared through an open call for nominations, with 15 January 2014 as the deadline for nominations.

The Executive Committee also approved the creation of a new IACL research group, namely one on constitution-making and constitutional change. The group already has more than 20 members and its contact person is Professor Xenophon Contiades of Greece.

Finally, the Executive Committee also heard a report of the completion of our two-year project funded by the Ford Foundation on the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights. During its two years the project managed to organise conferences or training courses in all seven of its focus countries on four continents, plus a number of regional or global activities. Special thanks are due to all colleagues who participated in the execution of the project and contributed to its success. We will do our best to secure the sustainability of the networks created through the project.

I encourage you to register for the World Congress and look forward to meeting you in Oslo!

Martin Scheinin


W G Hart Legal Workshop 2010 ‘Comparative Perspectives on Constitutions: Theory and Practice’
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London
Tuesday 29 June – Thursday 1 July, 2010

The W G Hart Legal Workshop 2010 will explore theoretical and empirical aspects of national constitutions (including instruments such as Basic Laws and ‘constitutional statutes’), regional constitutional instruments, and international instruments of a ‘constitutional’ nature. Particular emphasis will be placed on questions concerning the purposes of constitutions, the extent to which such conceptualisations are given expression in the drafting of constitutional texts, and the means by which methods, techniques and institutional innovations are traded across jurisdictions.

Proposals for papers or panels that fall within the framework of these themes are welcomed. The committee especially welcomes contributions from early career researchers and papers of a crossdisciplinary nature.

All papers will be posted on the workshop website. Subsequently, the organising committee intends to seek publication of a selection of these papers in more permanent form.

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VIIIth World Congress of the International Association of Constitutional Law
Constitutions and Principles
Mexico, 6 - December 2010

Planning for the VIIIth World Congress in Mexico City 2010 has begun. The Venue for the Congress is the Palacio de Minería in Mexico City.