Final Conference – Judges Under Stress

How do rulers seek judicial compliance with authoritarian measures, how do judges react to such measures, and what are the conditions under which an independent judiciary breaks down?

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These questions have been addressed from the perspective of institutional theory, looking at the experiences of Central and Eastern European states under communist rule. In this final conference, we will summarise some of the results and point to questions for the future.

Main speakers

Hans Petter Graver (University of Oslo)
Renáta Uitz (Central European University)
Terence Halliday (American Bar Foundation)
Joxerramon Bengoetxea (University of the Basque Country)

About the conference

The main focus of the conference will be developments in Europe, drawing on the experiences of the twentieth century to analyze and explain the present situation. However, we also invite contributions from America (north and south), Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The project and the conference have judges and judicial institutions as their primary object of study, but judges form part of a legal complex of lawyers, prosecutors, bureaucrats, and civil society, and the legal institutions as a whole might serve as an interest.


The conference will be organized into panel sessions. Normally, three to four papers will be presented in any one session. Applicants may submit individual papers, which will be assigned to appropriate panels by the organizers.

Papers will typically consist of 15/20 minute presentations, which will be arranged into 90-minute panels of 3/4 papers each, plus discussion time. However, we are open to alternative formats, so some sessions may vary from this within the 90-minute blocks of the program.

If you need to communicate about your proposal submission, please direct correspondence to with the subject heading: Judges under Stress Conference.


The focus of the conference

  • Institutional path dependence – how legal traditions and culture live on, transform and disappear
    Our research addressed hidden continuities in CEE judiciaries as well as concealed discontinuities and omissions in the rule of law conceptualization in the region. The latter line of research also reflected on connections to the current rule of law decay and illiberal attempts. Building on this output, we invite contributions that follow an institutionalist perspective, broadly perceived, to historically, empirically, and theoretically address the breaking point of judicial institutions. We welcome contributions that are comparative in nature.
  • Judicial Ideology – how judges see themselves, their role in the legal system
    The concept of ideology has a long history. It started with the ideology as the science of ideas and their origins, followed through Marx's theory of ideology as false consciousness, to Althusser's process of interpellation. As Althusser puts it, "the individual is interpellated as a (free) subject so that he shall submit freely to the commandments of the subject, so that he shall (freely) accept his subjection, i.e., so that he shall make the gestures and actions of his subjection 'all by himself." In our approach, the ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence. The goal of the ideology is to create and mold a subject for the benefit of whatever the power claims to be of value. Subjects do not perceive this influence as artificial or secondary but natural, true, or apparent. Our goal is to focus on judges as subjects and the ideology reflected in their speech and action. It is mainly how judges have seen themselves and how they have perceived their role in the legal system, depending on their social reality. We decided to use the concept of ideology instead of culture, emphasizing the change in material conditions. We encourage critical approaches towards judicial ideology, particularly in critical social changes
  • Judicial Resistance – how judges can resist and postpone the breaking point of the rule of law
    Politicians already did in the past, do currently, or might in the future, challenge the rule of law and judicial independence and thus put political demands on the judiciary. Courts in different countries face contemporary powerful forces calling for illiberal measures and 'reforming' the judiciary.
    Academia does critically assess the measures by which rulers in different regimes seek to influence judges improperly. But it is equally important to explore judicial individual and collective reactions to rule of law backsliding.
    Is there a right, or even a duty of a judge to resist illiberal measures that limit the rule of law standards, including judicial independence, even if framed within positive law?
    Are there any regulations on the countries level and international level (including drafts, of just debate) regarding judicial resistance, right/obligation of the judge to defend the rule of law, judicial independence, right/obligation of the judge to go public, to take part in the public debate (including in the media): legal provisions, ethical provisions, oaths and similar?

Call for papers

Read the call for papers (in .pdf).

Timeline for submission of the papers:

  • July 8th, 2022 – Explicit interest in submitting a paper
  • October 30th, 2022 - First draft submission
  • November 1st, 2022 - Sharing of selected articles with all contributors for internal assessment and referencing
  • November 17-18th, 2022 – Conference in Oslo
  • December 15th, 2022 – First round of comments by the Judges under Stress team and drafts returned to the authors
  • January 31st, 2023 - Implementation of the proposed comments and cross-referencing
  • February 1st, 2023 - Submission of chapters to external reviewers
  • Fall 2023 – Expected publication of the Special Issue


In order to have factual information on the days of your stay and the organization of the conference program as well as extra-conference activities, we would like to ask you to fill out the form.

Please register your participation by 18 September. 


See the tentative programme

Practical information and more about the conference

Please see further information regarding; Venue, transport, hotel, social events, dinner etc.

For more information about Oslo 

Hotels, things to do etc.




Published Feb. 2, 2022 11:53 AM - Last modified Sep. 22, 2022 2:36 PM