Since the end of the Cold War in 1989, constitution-making has occurred within a broader context of democratic transitions and very often in post-conflict settings, with the result that Constitutions have become an important element of post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building processes widely supported by international actors. The benefits of constitution-making in post-conflict settings rely on the ability of Constitutions to facilitate reconciliatory politics, address intolerable grievances, and prevent further polarization of societies and conflict deterioration. For instance, the 1949 German Basic Law was adopted after the country’s defeat in WWII with the intent to prevent the recurrence of inhumane practices of the Nazi era. To this end, several “never agains” such as bans on extreme parties and speech were incorporated into the constitutional text, while the theory of constitutional patriotism has been developed as a substitute for the problematic concept of national identity after Nazism, with the aim to create the political attachment to the values and norms of a democratic Constitution rather than to the national culture. Another example is the South African post-apartheid Constitution which has played an important role in the reconciliation of society by providing a bridge between the past of a racially divided country and the future founded on the concept of a society united in its diversity.
Although constitution-making as a tool for managing conflicts and facilitating peace-building efforts has had some degree of success, not always are Constitutions capable of addressing identity politics in a way that allows the construction of an inclusive polity. Rather than promoting an integrative effect, in countries emerging from violent conflicts Constitutions have very often become an instrument that reiterates divisions and allows discrimination on a different basis. For example, Bosnia and Herzegovina's post-war Constitution discriminates against citizens who do not declare any ethnic affiliation with one of the three dominant ethnic groups called constituent peoples. In other cases, Constitutions subordinate national minorities to the dominant ethnic group, with the risk of preventing the integration of diverse minorities within a cohesive polity. The mixture of universal democratic values and the persistence of ethnic traditions is present, for instance, in many Constitutions of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Such issues are relevant because the failure of the constitutional framework to address sameness and difference not only may preclude the reconciliation of diverse identities within an inclusive state but risk also triggering new conflicts and cultural violence.
Aims and goals
The research group aims to address discrimination along the lines of ethnicity, language, religion, culture, and regional identity within Constitutions, with the goal of contributing to discussions on constitution-building in post-conflict settings and the necessity to create more inclusive Constitutions that allow the break with a violent past and human rights abuses.
Workshops, roundtables, panel discussions (including webinars), panels at international/national conferences, networking opportunities, academic blogging, and publications.
National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan)
Constitutional Court of Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
West University of Timisoara (Romania)
University of Johannesburg/Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC) (South Africa)
Çiğdem Serra Uzunpinar
Ankara University (Turkey)
Zeynep Özkan Güneş
Çukurova University (Turkey)
University of Warsaw (Poland)
University of Melbourne (Australia)
American International University (Bangladesh)
University of Rwanda (Rwanda)
Carna Pistan is a Comparative Public Law scholar with an interest in the emerging field of Law and Memory. She obtained a PhD in Constitutional Law from the University of Bologna (2010) after graduating in Political Science from the University of Trieste (2005). In February 2020 she was awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship for the project: "Illusions of eternity: the Constitution as a lieu de mémoire and the problem of collective remembrance in the Western Balkans" to be carried out at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University and the Institute for Comparative Federalism, EURAC research. She is the author of one book, and numerous book chapters and articles focusing on democratic transitions, constitutional justice, hybrid regimes, illiberal constitutionalism, nationalism, collective memory, and national identity, with particular reference to Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union sphere. She has presented her research at numerous international conferences.
With a BA in Law and MA in State Management and Humanitarian Affairs, Adnan is since 2006 involved in human rights advocacy, litigation, policy development and implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In his capacity of a legal adviser in the Agency for Gender Equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the OSCE Mission he has successfully participated in the advocacy for the anti-discrimination legislation and was a key part of the working group which has developed the Law prohibiting discrimination and the amendments to the Law on Gender Equality. Subsequently he has developed amendments in the area of non-discrimination and equality which are a part of the legal landscape of Bosnia and Herzegovina today. Adnan has participated in the development of different non-discrimination and equality policies in the country including the Gender action plan, Strategy to combat violence against women and domestic violence, the Action plan to implement the UNSCR 1325. For his work he was awarded by a fellowship by the Open Society Foundation and UNDP, he's an external associate of the Human Rights Centre of the University of Sarajevo and member of the editorial board of the International Journal on Rule of Law, Transitional Justice and Human Rights. He is also engaged in human rights training and has conducted over 300 days of training for over 3000 participants.
Alenka Antloga graduated cum laude from the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana. She took part in the International Asylum Law Moot Court Competition in Trnava (semi-finals, 2010) and participated in several international events, e.g. Kosovo International Summer Academy on Peace building in Post-Conflict areas – Diplomacy, Leadership and Negotiations (2018), International Summer School Sarajevo 2019: Transitional Justice, Institution Building and Human Rights After Conflict, The International Doctoral Seminar in Law in Ljubljana (presentation of paper The Judicial Review of the Autonomy of Parliament in Slovenia in the System of Checks and Balances, 2020), Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations (Certificate of Advanced Studies in International Relations & Diplomacy, 2021), Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention - Mediterranean Basin Edition (Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, completed with distinction in 2022) and the 16th Biennial Meeting of the International Association of Genocide Scholars: Authoritarianism & Genocide: Narratives of Exclusion (2023). Alenka is a member of the Association of Constitutional Law of Slovenia, and the United Nations Association of Slovenia, a coordinating editor of the scientific journal Przegląd Europejski, and is presenting judgments for the legal journal Pravna praksa, časopis za pravna vprašanja.
New members are cordially invited. Please get in touch with one of the convenors for further information.