The conference

The Porto Faculty of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa is pleased do invite applications to attend its 2017 Conference "Constitutionalism in a Plural World", that will take place on November 22nd and 23rd, at Porto.

Constitutionalism has been traditionally understood as a project to achieve the organization and limitation of State power in territorially differentiated societies, whilst guaranteeing and protecting fundamental rights of the citizens.

However, this broad and classic sense of constitutionalism must today come under scrutiny. In fact, the epistemic community of constitutionalists and experts in public law is currently called to critically examine the main assumptions in which constitutionalism is based.

On a theoretical and fundamental level, one needs to inquire on the contemporary meaning and function of constitutional normativity. That requires knowledge and understanding about social phenomena and dynamics shaping our societies, in order to put constitutionalism in context.

First, it has to be questioned whether or not a single and universally valid concept of constitutionalism exists. Taking into account the cultural diversity between regions or countries of the world, the distinct political regimes, the different forms of social organization (especially regarding secularization and the more liberal or intervening role of the State), as well as the asymmetries in the economic development of nations, it remains open to discussion if constitutionalism has certain essentially necessary traits or if there are several and diverse constitutionalisms. Second, it is well know that national states no longer represent the sole dominant actors in the world society. The globalization of economic relations contributed to the emergence of transnational players that operate beyond national borders, leading to the emergence of a so-called “global law” without the state, often generated by private entities. It is important to analyse how this evolution impacts on the notion of constitutionalism, since power appears distributed through a myriad of public and private actors. It adds that it is necessary to grasp the position of the individuals in this acentric and networked horizon, namely in what concerns their fundamental rights. Third, some of the most pressing issues currently being faced by national communities require some sort of international cooperation or concerted action. Not only war and peace problems, but migratory movements of large scale challenge in still undefined ways the basic concepts of border and citizenship, if not even of sovereignty. And some menaces, such as environmental catastrophes or financial crisis, raise the issue of an overarching sustainability of policies and of intergenerational justice.

With this background, we welcome abstracts addressing the following issues, though not limited to them:

  • history of constitutionalism, comparative constitutional law and science of public law;
  • constitutionalism beyond the state (societal constitutionalism, multilevel constitutionalism, European constitutionalism, etc.);
  • fundamental rights in the global arena;
  • intergenerational justice and rights of future generations;
  • citizenship and migrations;
  • the role of constitutional courts and the methodology for constitutional review;
  • constitutional interpretation and constitutional amendments;
  • democracy in the world society.