Fakultäten » Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät » Rechtswissenschaftliches Institut » Staats-, Verwaltungs- und Völkerrecht » Prof. Dr. Andreas Auer (emeritiert) » Auer

Completed research project

Title / Titel Constitutional conventions, direct democracy and institutional change
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung Constitutional conventions are specialized institutional bodies, elected or appointed, that are mandated for writing a new constitution or amending an existing constitution of a given state or state-like entity. The aim of this research is to measure and to compare the relationship between constitutional conventions, direct democracy and institutional change and to evaluate the specific conflict resolution capacity of constitutional conventions. The first part of the research will present a broad overview of constitutional conventions throughout time (history) and space (countries, constituent entities), relating their composi-tion, mandate and activity. Although basically descriptive, this kind of mapping of the phe-nomenon is not without interest, as constitutional conventions have literally spread among all continents in the most various circumstances. This part of the research will be integrated into the database of the Research Centre on Direct Democracy (c2d) ( Part II studies the links between constitutional conventions and direct democracy. It is a his-torical fact that many devices of direct democracy have been conceived or fostered by consti-tutional conventions. Thus, the constitutional referendum is a direct result of the New England constitutional conventions of the 1770s, which stand at the very origin of modern constitu-tionalism. In Switzerland, during the 1830s, a series of constitutional conventions forced upon the rulers of that time the adoption of direct democracy devices like the legislative referen-dum, the popular initiative and the recall, which have strongly favoured the development of direct democracy on the federal government level. The development of direct democracy in Latin America during the last fifteen years is widely but not exclusively, due to constitutional assemblies. This central part of the research can be seen as a continuation of a series of previ-ous research projects pursued by the c2d since 1993. Part III will entirely focus on the unique experience of the two European Conventions by which the European Union has tried to bridge its democratic deficit. The 1999 Convention that drafted the Charter on Fundamental Rights and the 2002/2003 Convention for Europe, which produced the Constitutional Treaty, deserve special attention as they operated for the first time in history on a supranational level. The conventions will be scrutinized as to their relationship with democracy and, in this respect, compared with the national or sub-national experiences listed in part I. Finally, the last part opens the perspective to the social and political science arena by examin-ing constitutional conventions as a means of conflict resolution. Typically, constitutional con-ventions are established for preserving or creating a given order of civil government in a con-text of crisis. Under what circumstances are they established? To what extent and under what conditions do conventions succeed? Why do they fail? What are the specific communicative processes that play a role at this highest possible level of government? How does the subse-quent referendum affect these processes? This part concludes with inside remarks concerning ongoing experiences with constitutional conventions in Cyprus, Nepal and the canton of Geneva.
Publications / Publikationen ANDREAS AUER, A Constitutional Convention or Cyprus, (Ed., with VASILIKI TRIGA), Berlin 2009 152.p.

ANDREAS AUER, Cyprus and the Constitutional Convention (Guest Editor), Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, vol. 11 number 4 December 2009, 110 p.

ANDREAS AUER, Réflexions sur la nouvelle Constitution genevoise, PJA 2008 683-688

Keywords / Suchbegriffe constitutions, constitutional conventions, conflict resolution, direct democracy, institutional change
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof Andreas Auer (Project Leader)
Dr. Jonathan Wheatley, PhD
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung)
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jul 2008 to Dec 2010