Blog of the IACL, AIDC

a network of constitutionalists from countries throughout the world

IACL Research Group Profile: Constitution-Making and Constitutional Change

 

By Prof Xenophon Contiades and Dr Alkmene Fotiadou

This is the first in a series of posts profiling the Research Groups of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL). Each group works under the auspices of the IACL to develop scholarship and encourage dialogue centring on a particular issue of interest to comparative constitutionalists. This post showcases the work of the Constitution-Making and Constitutional Change Research Group.

The Research Group on Constitution-Making and Constitutional Change of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) was created in 2014 and aims to promote the study of constitution-making and constitutional change from a comparative aspect. The Research Group assembles constitutional scholars interested in the wide variety of issues stemming from constitution-writing and constitutional evolution across the world. The Group explores the procedures used for the enactment of new constitutions and for formal constitutional amendment, as well as the substantive content of constitution-making and constitutional change.

1.   Research area

Constitution-making, including the negotiation, pre-enactment process, the design and the adoption of new constitutions, remains one of the major areas of interest in comparative constitutional law. In many parts of the world new constitutions emerge, or it is hoped that they shall be enacted after traumatic experiences, and the challenge is how comparative experience and past-knowledge can help this novel wave of constitution-making.

Comparative constitutional amendment is the study of how constitutions change through formal and informal means, including alteration, revision, evolution, interpretation, replacement and revolution. The emergence of comparative constitutional amendment as a distinct field of study is an important development. Constitutions are understood through the way they change, whereas constitutional change, both formal and informal, is approached through revisiting definitions of the constitution. Comparative, theoretical, doctrinal, historical, cultural and empirical approaches, in combination or through antagonism, enrich the analysis.

The idea of creating the Group emerged through the work on two edited comparative volumes published in 2013 (Engineering Constitutional Change and Constitutions in the Global Financial Crisis). The co-operation between scholars and the results from this interaction showed the great potential of group work and also helped realize that a network was needed to bring together constitutionalists and comparatists whose work focuses on constitutional change.  Thus, under the umbrella of the IACL, the Group brings together different institutions, networks and scholars who work on the issue. As part of the Research Group’s activities, a network for the exchange of information and analysis has been set up and members include the most active comparatists in the field.

2.  Workshops and Conferences

One of the Research Group’s main activities is the organization of events in different countries. Already two workshops and one conference have been organised. The first workshop was held in Luxembourg in co-operation with Prof. Jorg Gerkrath and  resulted in a very timely edited volume published by Routledge on “Participatory Constitutional Change” and the recent trend of constitutional change through referendums. The second workshop took place in Boston in co-operation with Prof. Richard Albert and we are now waiting for the edited volume the “Foundations and Traditions of Constitutional Amendment”, which is to be published in July 2017 by Hart Publishing. The most recent event was a Conference on Imposed Constitutions and aspects of imposed constitutionalism, which was held on May 5-6 2017 in Nicosia, Cyprus. We chose to revisit a traditional concept in comparative constitutional law through novel conceptual, normative and empirical lenses.

3.  Publications

To supplement our work with the publication of reference volumes we have launched a Book Series at Routledge, edited by four of our members:  Prof. Fleiner, Prof. Albert, Prof. Contiades and Dr. Fotiadou. The series aims to publish works on comparative constitutional change and encompasses the study of constitutions through the way they change, covering a wide scope of topics and methodologies. Books in this series include work on developments in the functions of the constitution, the organization of powers and the protection of rights, as well as research that focuses on formal amendment rules and the relation between constituent and constituted power. The Series accepts comparative approaches along with books that focus on single jurisdictions, and brings together research monographs and edited collections which allow the expression of different schools of thought.

4.  Blog

In addition to the Group’s events and publications we have established a blog open to all our members and scholars who work on comparative constitutional law. Thus, the Group provides a forum for interaction and discussion on all topics related to constitution-making and constitutional change, which includes a facebook page. Through the posts we share information and analysis on the ongoing developments in our countries and the relevant theoretical debates. A permanent feature of the blog is the updates of the Decisions of the Swiss Sovereign, authored by Prof. Fleiner. Monitoring Swiss referenda allows comparison at a time where the use of referenda has increased, a development however which is not devoid of problems.

Prominent scholars have contributed posts but also younger scholars, who have the opportunity through the blog to have their entry read by a wide circle of scholars. The blog is open to all and accepts posts from 300 to 2000 words, authored in different academic styles. Authors may contribute posts on all issues of constitution-making and constitutional change, book reviews as well as presentation of their own work.

5.  Future Plans

The Constitution-making and Constitutional Change Group’s future plans include 3 novel publications and a workshop scheduled for 2018. Nonetheless, our ambition is to encourage our Group members to organize regional events that may also lead to interesting publications.

 

(Professor Xenophon Contiades (xcontiades@hotmail.com) is the contact person for the Group and Dr. Alkmene Fotiadou (alkmenef@gmail.com) is the http://constitutional-change.com blog master).

 

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