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Peace Processes, Federalism and Constitution-Making

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UNSW Law Faculty Boardroom, level 2, Building F08, Kensington Campus, Sydney

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Peace Processes, Federalism and Constitution-Making: Comparative Perspectives on the Complexities of Conflict Resolution and Maintenance

Date: Thursday 6th – Friday 7th December 2018

Time: 9:30-4:30pm

Over the past few decades, peace agreements have come to be a defining feature of political and legal settlements of internal conflict. The relationship between peace processes and constitution-making is complex and some scholars have suggested that it requires a new understanding of constitutionalism. As Teitel has noted, the idea of constitutionalism is generally understood ‘to bind an enduring political order’. In contrast, a period of political transition brought about by a peace agreement relies on a concept of transitional constitutionalism as an idea that is ‘responsive to prior rule’ and holds in tension both the past and the future. Hart has conceived of this as the role of a constitution in an ongoing conversation to transform conflict (2001), rather than a fixed and settled agreement. Others have referred to peace agreements themselves as a form of transitional constitution (Bell 2000). Peace agreements have often been accompanied or followed by significant constitutional amendment, or even wholesale constitutional reform. In divided societies, peace processes may also include negotiations and discussion around strengthening or introducing some form of federalism or decentralization of power. With the global advent of constitutional courts, this has brought courts into the conversation of validating, interpreting and applying peace agreements or constitutional reforms that have followed from these processes. This workshop will consider the issues this raises for the field comparative constitutional law, such as

  • What is the relation between peace agreements and constitution-making in political transformation?
  • What is the nature and role of constitutionalism in periods of political change brought about by peace agreements?
  • What is the role of courts in validating, maintaining, defining or updating peace agreements and related constitutional reforms?
  • To what extent is a lasting peace agreement and constitution-making possible under authoritarian or military rule?
  • What challenges does time and sequencing present in peace agreements and constitution-making (eg past failed peace agreements, peace agreements before or after constitution-making)
  • To what extent is addressing and incorporating ideas of legal culture and tradition necessary to ensure the longevity and impact of a peace agreement and constitution-reform?

This conference is funded by the UNSW Institute for Global Development and the Gilbert & Tobin Centre for Public Law at UNSW

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UNSW Law Faculty Boardroom, level 2, Building F08, Kensington Campus, Sydney

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