Andrew Le Sueur: report on IACL 9th World Congress in Oslo

I’m not sure what the collective noun for constitutional law scholars is, but whatever the word, there were a lot of them in Norway last week for the 9th world congress of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IALC). The event, which ran from 16th to 20th June 2014, attracted over 600 participants –24 from the United Kingdom – from 87 countries.

Many delegates commented the significant proportion of younger scholars present, a sign that the future of the IACL is strong. Since the IACL was formally inaugurated at its first world congress in 1983 (held in Belgrade), it is has developed into an association of associations (the UK Constitutional Law Association is one of the national associations affiliated to the IACL), which also offers individual membership, and provides support for several active research groups. Roundtables on specific topics are held two or three times a year.

Plenary sessions

The opening ceremony, attended by the Crown Prince, provided the local organisers with an opportunity to mark the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution. With the ceremonial part of the proceedings over, the congress’s broad theme of “Constitutional Challenges: Global and Local” was rolled out in plenary sessions, which saw an array of public intellectuals, from law and beyond, speak, standing under Edvard Munch’s fabulous mural entitled “The Sun”,  in Oslo University law faculty’s Aula. The keynote speakers were:

  • Martti Koskenniemi, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Wojciech Sadurski, University of Sydney, Australia
  • Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, USA
  • Catharine MacKinnon, University of Michigan / Harvard, USA
  • Tariq Modood, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
  • Etienne Le Roy, Université de Paris I (Sorbonne), France
  • Daniel Weinstock, McGill University, Canada.
Plenary session 3: judges' panel on proportionality in constitutional adjudication
Plenary session 3: judges’ panel on proportionality in constitutional adjudication

By tradition, the final plenary session was a panel of judges – who spoke frankly about the difficulties and potential for using proportionality in human rights and constitutional litigation. @UKCLA was tweeting throughout the session, so look at our feed for 140-character attempts to capture some of the debate. The judges taking part were:

  • Susanne Baer, Justice, Constitutional Court of Germany
  • Amine Benabdallah, Professor, Member of the Constitutional Council of Morocco
  • William A. Fletcher, Judge, United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Françoise Tulkens, Former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights


Participants wanting something new, and to meet scholars working in similar fields, were well served by 17 workshops spread over three days. The accepted papers are online for anybody to read (see here), and these provide rich pickings from established and emerging scholars.

Workshop 8: the internet and the constitution, chaired by Adrienne Stone (Australia) and Djedjro Meledje (Ivory Coast)
Workshop 8: the internet and the constitution, chaired by Adrienne Stone (Australia) and Djedjro Meledje (Ivory Coast)

 IACL governance

The IACL world congress enables the election of a president for the next four years. Professor Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa takes over as president from Professor Martin Scheinin.  Manuel Cepeda – described by one journalist as “el supermán jurídico” – taught at the Universidad de los Andes Law School, was a member of the constitutional court of Columbia 2001-2009, and is a senior legal advisor to government. Professor Adrienne Stone, of Melbourne Law School, was elected as first vice-president. I was elected to serve a further 4-year term on the IACL executive committee.

The new executive committee postponed making a decision about the venue for the next world congress until November, to enable further analysis of three bids from national associations in Australia , China, and South Korea. Let’s meet in Melbourne, Beijing, or Seoul in 2018 …

If you would like to support the work of UKCLA, which runs this blog and is affiliated to the IACL, please join. Membership is £15 for the 2014 calendar year.

Andrew Le Sueur is president of the UK Constitutional Law Association and Professor of Constitutional Justice at the University of Essex, UK

(Suggested citation: A. Le Sueur, ‘Report  on IACL 9th World Congress in Oslo’ U.K. Const. L. Blog (23rd June 2014) (available at