Seminar: "Post-Soviet Transformative Constitutionalism"

7 November 2019

In November, Will Partlett led a seminar on "Post Soviet Transformative Constitutionalism" at Kings College in London. The seminar was part of the Human Rights, Development and Global Justice Series, which aims to create an open, interdisciplinary academic platform for the discussion of issues related to human rights, development and global justice.

In Europe, Latin America, and Asia, transformative constitutionalism has seen written constitutions emerge as powerful instruments for breaking with an authoritarian past. Yet, transformative constitutionalism remains largely unrealised in the former Soviet republics.  With the exception of the Baltic states, most post-Soviet states have rejected transformative constitutionalism and instead have built centralized presidential regimes. Underpinning this authoritarian resilience is a deeply-rooted discourse that views transformative constitutionalism as a Western concept ill-suited to the particular challenges of the region.  This particularist discourse instead views a strong and centralized state as necessary for overcoming unique post-Soviet problems.  As the state weakness of the immediate post-Soviet era recedes in the face of rising corruption, however, this centralized state discourse is weakening. Transformative constitutionalism’s future prospects will hinge on its ability to justify itself as a better method for tackling the unique post-Soviet challenges of the 21st century.