2020 Melbourne Forum

Representation in Democracies During Emergencies

In response to the historic impact of the COVID19 pandemic, the fifth Melbourne Forum on Constitution Building in Asia and the Pacific will be held as a series of four online seminars in September 2020, hosted by the Constitution Transformation Network and by International IDEA. The topic of this year's Forum is "Representation in Democracies During Emergencies".

MF20 Concept Note .. MF20 Program

Representation is critical, both in Constitution-making processes and in the institutions for democratic government that Constitutions put in place. In both theory and practice, representation raises a host of questions for constitutional arrangements, however. These include, but are not confined to: the relationship between representatives and the represented; the roles and responsibilities of representatives; the options for choosing representatives; the ways in which representatives are held accountable; the relationship between representative and direct democracy, where the latter is used; the relationship between representatives at different levels of government; the impact of internationalisation on democratic representation; the implications of different choices in the constitutional, legal and political framework of the system of government for the effectiveness of representation and the way it works in practice.

The Melbourne Forum 2020 tackles issues for democratic representation from the standpoint of emergencies. Representation faces particular challenges in times of emergency. Emergencies come in a wide variety of forms, however, potentially affecting representation in different ways. The Melbourne Forum 2020 uses as its lens into the impact of emergencies on democratic representation the Covid-19 pandemic, which has given rise to both health and economic emergencies of major proportions in countries across the world. These two linked emergencies, in turn, have called for an effective response by states, with results that have varied from impressive success to significant failure. To examine these dynamics and their links with representation, Melbourne Forum 2020 will draw on the experiences of states across Asia and the Pacific, as a vast and diverse region of the world that represents a substantial component of global constitutional experience.