Project methods

The current approaches

Established approaches to the growing transnational constitution typically view the new model of constitutionalism from a globalist perspective. That is, they observe the transnational legal order as breaking with the normative apparatus of classical constitutions, as reflecting an increase in transnational restrictions on national institutions, and as leading both to a weakness of national democracy and to a reduction of national state autonomy (usually defined as state sovereignty).

Most approaches observe the rise of the transnational constitution as part of the wider reduction of national state capacities usually ascribed to the cluster of phenomena known as globalisation, and they imply a broad antinomy between national and transnational legal norms.

Challenging presumptions

This project challenges the typical presumption that there exists a strict caesura between contemporary and classical constitutionalism, and it explains contemporary constitutionalism, in part, as a functional extension of classical constitutions.

Proceeding from a functionalist explanation of constitutions as documents that enhance inner-societal processes of state building and systemic stabilisation, the project attempts to explain how the proliferation of the judicial model of constitutionalism in contemporary society re-articulates the core social functions of classical constitutions, and it acts, not to constrain, but to intensify state power in particular societies. The projects tries to show that the interaction between national states and the transnational legal system is driven by deep-lying structural dynamics within single societies, and assimilation of transnational norms often allows states to resolve structural/functional problems of depleted autonomy and low density, which typically impact on state-building processes.

Analysing states

The project aims to demonstrate that in many societies transnational norms and the judicial constitutional apparatus through which they are applied provide solutions for endemic political/structural weaknesses, and they often act as a foundation for effective state power.

In developing these theses, the project explains how transnational norms impact on different national states, and it covers a spectrum of states, in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, positioned at different points on a spectrum of judicial power and democratisation.