State of emergency law and the constitution. Ruptures and continuity in constitutional law

The project seeks to identify the Constitution's relationship with Norwegian and European experience of various forms of fracture and discontinuity in the normal functions of constitutions.

Illustration: "Barricade à l'angle des boulevard Voltaire et Richard-Lenoir pendant la Commune de Paris de 1871." © BHVP / Roger-Viollet. Book cover by: PAX Forlag.

About the project

Constitutions are often written for normal times. How will they meet the extraordinary demands of exceptional situations? Everything from natural disasters, political turmoil, war or terror can trigger a state of emergency that puts the normal functions of the constitution out of play.

Even in Norway, with a very stable state history, the Constitution of 1814 has been tested several times, most evidently during the war years 1940-1945. In Norwegian law 'constitutional necessity' has become a variation on emergency law, which gives the government the authority to suspend parts of the Constitution. Around the world, a state of emergency has at times become the most common grounds for suspension of constitution.

After 2001, new forms of conflict, terrorist action against governments, have triggered extensive national and international regulations of states of emergency. They have led to important debates about the relationship between the rule of law of the constitution and the state’s need for security. Is the right balance between these two considerations found?

This book is the first in Norwegian, which raises these pressing new questions against a broad historical backdrop.


The project is organized as research and into a series of seminars. The project has resulted in an anthology published by PAX Forlag in 2013.


The project is part of the project New Perspectives in Constitutional History (NFR / 1814 project). The project builds on established interdisciplinary research and is aimed at different forms of communication.


The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between lawyers and historians from the Universities of Oslo and Stavanger, as well as researchers from the Police Academy of Oslo.

Published Mar. 4, 2014 11:40 AM