The Quest for Constitutional Harmony: From the Enlightenment Constitution to a Legally Pluralistic World


  • Martti Koskenniemi, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Wojciech Sadurski, University of Sydney, Australia
  • Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, USA

A plurality of legal orders

In the traditional Westphalian era, based on the Enlightenment ideals, nation states were endowed with constitutions that provided both hierarchical order and unity. In the last generation, there has been a massive shift as a consequence of globalization, the proliferation of transnational legal orders, such as the European Union, and of worldwide and regional segmented legal regimes such as the WTO, the ECHR, American Convention of Human Rights, the Mercosur etc. Consequently, every legal person is currently subjected to a plurality of competing and at times contradictory legal orders.

New challenges

This presents numerous new hurdles involving many of the key processes and institutions that elate to constitutional ordering, including constitution making, constitutional adjudication and constitutional harmonization of fundamental vertical and horizontal  apportionments of power. This plenary session will address fundamental philosophical and theoretical issues, concerning the new challenges posed to key concepts such as sovereignty, legitimacy, constitutionalism, democracy, pouvoir constituant and pouvoir constitu√© in relation to the quest to weave competing aspirations to unity, diversity and plurality.


Department of Public and International Law and IACL
Published Apr. 2, 2013 1:18 PM - Last modified June 10, 2014 12:31 PM