2021 Melbourne Forum


"Democracy, Constitutions &
Dealing With The World"

In response to the ongoing impact of the COVID19 pandemic, the sixth Melbourne Forum on Constitution Building in Asia and the Pacific will again be organised as a series of online Roundtables hosted by the Constitution Transformation Network and by International IDEA. The topic of this year's Forum is "Democracy, Constitutions and Dealing with the World". The 2021 Melbourne Forum will be run as two connected online Roundtables, held on Tuesday 2 November 2021 from 1-5pm (AEST) and Thursday 2 November 2021 from 1-5pm (AEST).

MF21 Concept Note .. MF21 Register Here

All constitutions also have what might be described as an external face, vis-à-vis the rest of the world. This manifests itself in all sorts of ways. Most obviously, constitutions typically provide the means for identifying the citizens of the state and sometimes also the territory of the state, distinguishing them from the citizens and territories of other states elsewhere. Some constitutions commit the state to particular international policy positions, such as peace or multilateralism. All constitutions, expressly or by implication, identify the national institutions that have primary responsibility for conducting international relations on behalf of the state. Many constitutions specifically provide for the status of international in domestic law.

The external face of national constitutions has always been important, but its significance is greater than ever in the current age of globalisation. International organisations and norms have proliferated across most areas of human activity. International trade, investment and development assistance have been catalysts for deep and sustained economic interdependence. There is a growing list of urgent and, in some cases, existential problems that require collective and effective global action.

The Melbourne Forum 2021 tackles a series of current issues involving the outward-looking, or external face of democratic constitutions. It cannot cover the whole field, which is vast. It focusses instead on four themes, chosen for their immediate relevance, as a way of starting the broader conversation:

  • the relevance and significance of international approval of new constitutions;
  • constitutional procedures for entering into treaties and other international commitments;
  • constitutional frameworks for international investment approvals; and
  • international engagement with sub-national jurisdictions.