Blog of the IACL, AIDC

a network of constitutionalists from countries throughout the world

Call for Papers: “Abuse of the Constitution in Times of Emergency” at the 10th World Congress of Constitutional Law

Submissions Invited for Workshop on “Abuse of the Constitution in Times of Emergency” at the 10th World Congress of Constitutional Law

June 18-22, 2018, Seoul.

seoul has soul

Blog post written by Martin Scheinin, European University Institute and Richard Albert, The University of Texas at Austin

We are pleased to invite submissions for the IACL Workshop #2 on “Abuse of the Constitution in Times of Emergency” at the 10th World Congress of Constitutional Law, scheduled for June 18-22, 2018, in Seoul.

The subject of this Workshop is timely and important.

Many contemporary constitutions include one or more clauses related to a state of emergency. These clauses may alter the normal division of powers, typically between an elected parliament and an executive, or they may allow for derogations from some constitutionally protected fundamental rights. Often the latter type of emergency clauses are modelled along the lines of the derogation clauses in international human rights treaties (ICCPR art. 4, ECHR art. 15, IACHR art. 27), while there is much more diversity as to how a state of emergency may affect the powers and competences of various state organs.

As history has shown, the power to declare an emergency is susceptible to abuse not only in the politically expedient interests of self-entrenchment and the suppression of opposition, but also in order to achieve otherwise contested priorities or policy objectives that would be unattainable in ordinary times in the face of an effective opposition capable of delaying or thwarting them.

Have constitutional designers developed effective mechanisms to constrain the exercise of the power to declare an emergency? Does law have a role in times of emergency? To what end? Should we accept that law has little to say about such a state of affairs—one that is more political than legal? Or should law come to terms with the reality that it will forever remain defenseless in the face of pure power-plays that we often identify with prolonged declarations of emergency? Whether or not law has a role in policing the conduct of political actors during times of emergency, can it be denied that “sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” as Carl Schmitt famously declared?

This Workshop will inquire into the risk of abusing constitutional emergency clauses for purposes beyond what is necessary to respond to the emergency with measures that would legitimately aim at the restoration of normalcy while at the same time effectively containing the threat to the nation. The types of “abuses” we hope to discuss on the basis of papers submitted from Workshop participants include:

  • Invoking the emergency clause(s) in the absence of any actual emergency;
  • Using an emergency as an opportunity to introduce permanent change, in contrast to temporary measures aimed at the restoration of normalcy;
  • Deploying emergency powers to curtail opposition (political parties, new social movements, dissidents, trade unions, free media, indigenous peoples, or minority or religious groups);
  • Re-organizing the state administration with the purpose or effect of purging the administration, judiciary or academia of people not regarded as “loyal” to the regime;
  • Centralizing powers into the hands of the executive at the expense of the elected parliament or the constituent units of a federal state;
  • Breaching non-derogable rights;
  • Invoking an emergency for the wholesale suspension of fundamental rights, rather than imposing measured restrictions upon them;
  • Introducing restrictions to rights that as such are subject to legitimate derogation but without satisfying the requirements of necessity and proportionality;
  • Using the emergency clause(s) to legitimize breaches of the country’s international commitments, including human rights obligation.

We welcome submissions from scholars of all levels, including doctoral candidates in law and related disciplines. We will endeavor to assemble a group that reflects a diversity of perspectives, national origins, seniority and methodological approaches.

Submission instructions are available here:

All submissions should indicate the name, institutional affiliation and contact information of the author(s). All abstracts should also state clearly the title of the Workshop for which it is intended.

We look forward to leading a productive and enjoyable Workshop in Seoul, and we hope to see you there.

2 comments on “Call for Papers: “Abuse of the Constitution in Times of Emergency” at the 10th World Congress of Constitutional Law

  1. Pingback: I·CONnect – What’s New in Public Law

  2. Pingback: I·CONnect – What is New in Public Law?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on February 4, 2018 by in Uncategorized.
%d bloggers like this: