The future of global constitutionalism: Launch of the Handbook on Global Constitutionalism

Event summary by our intern Teoman Kucuk:

On Thursday the 11th of October, the Centre for Global Constitutionalism hosted the roundtable discussion on the future of global constitutionalism, where Professors Anthony Lang, Antje Wiener, Jill Harries and Neil Walker joined Co-Director of the CGC, Dr Mateja Peter, to launch the Handbook on Global Constitutionalism. The work combines a variety of takes on the idea of global constitutionalism written by experts from fields as diverse as history, legal studies and IR. That diversity was represented on the stage as well, with the authors voicing their support for interdisciplinary conversation on the issue and stressing the importance of one another’s varied perspectives in the project.

Yet one may find themselves asking what exactly global constitutionalism is, and the answer to that would seem to be ‘exactly’. Prof. Wiener stressed the youth of the project, which brings with it both ambiguity and great potential. She told the audience that “No one can be a global constitutionalist”, as in her estimation, this was a field which still needed to be complicated, further examined and only then, potentially, consolidated into something more precise.

A quote from the handbook itself links constitutionalism with four principles: “the rule of law, a balance or separation of powers, constituent power, and rights.” Mentioning these principles, Prof. Lang nevertheless echoed his co-editor’s sentiment, stating that parts even of this were up for reinterpretation, agreeing that global constitutionalism was not to be seen as a point on a one-dimensional line of ‘civilisation’, but as a mode of governance that can be achieved from all starting points. For them, then, the handbook is not supposed to act as a guide for precise political action, or even a defined attitude for political engagement, but as a guide for the questions to be asked, and for certain ideals to shine through these questions nevertheless.