Melbourne Forum Reports
2016 Melbourne Forum: "Constitution Building in States with Territorially Based Societal Conflict"
The Melbourne Forum on Constitution Building is an annual event co-hosted by the Constitution Transformation Network and International IDEA. The inaugural Melbourne Forum brought together leading academics and practitioners from across Asia and the Pacific to discuss constitution-building in contexts where there is territorially defined societal conflict. Some states in the region have well-established constitutions that were designed with an eye to managing societal conflict, in other states, constitution building is either underway or pending. This report captures insights from eleven polities in the Asia Pacific region, on the themes of federalism and devolution, special autonomy, constitution making processes and constitutional implementation.
2017 Melbourne Forum: "From Big-Bang to Incrementalism"
The Second Melbourne Forum, jointly organised by International IDEA and ConTransNet, focused on the magnitude of constitutional change. In terms of process, the Forum explored the choices between making a new constitution, with or without legal rupture; amending an existing Constitution; or avoiding, limiting or postponing formal constitutional change altogether. In relation to substance, the Forum considered how countries have approached major institutional change to the form of government (shifting between parliamentary, semi-presidential and presidential systems) and to the form of the state (shifting between a unitary and a federal or devolved system). This report collects together the contributions from scholars and practitioners from across the Asia-Pacific region on each of these themes.
2018 Melbourne Forum: "Implications of Culture for Constitution Building"
The Third Melbourne Forum, jointly organised by International IDEA and ConTransNet, focused on the magnitude of constitutional change. Culture affects constitutional arrangements in all parts of the world. The Asia‐Pacific region offers a particularly useful context for this purpose, as the region is home to an extraordinary variety of cultures.The Forum aimed to deepen our understanding of how culture interacts with constitution building across Asia and the Pacific, in ways that throw light on the issues presented by culture in this important region and that inform global practice more generally. It also sought to reflect upon the additional challenges presented by cultural considerations for the implementation of new constitutional arrangements, which almost invariably requires cultural change of some kind. This interim report collects together the contributions from scholars and practitioners across five key themes and includes links to presenter's papers.
2019 Melbourne Forum: "Inclusion and Participation in Constitution-Building Processes"
Inclusion and participation are familiar topics in constitution building. They can be interdependent - even the most broad-based participation, for example, may raise questions about who to include - but they also raise distinct issues as well. There remains some ambivalence, both in the literature and in practice, about both the inherent value of inclusion and participation and the ways in which they can be made effective. Concerns fall into at least five categories asking: why, who, when, how and to what effect? Experience offers insight into each of these questions, without finally resolving them. The many questions raised by inclusion and participation in constitution-building were considered at the 2019 Melbourne Forum and captured in the country papers and online report.
2020 Melbourne Forum “Representation in Democracies During Emergencies”
Representation is critical, both in constitution‐making processes and in the institutions for democratic government that constitutions put in place. The Melbourne Forum 2020 tackled issues for democratic representation from the standpoint of emergencies. Representation faces particular challenges in times of emergency. 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 have called for an effective response by states, with results that have varied from impressive success to significant failure.
As a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, this Melbourne Forum was held as a series of four online seminars.
View recordings of the seminars and links to the papers from each speaker
2021 Melbourne Forum "Democracy, Constitutions and Dealing with the World"
All constitutions also have what might be described as an external face, by which the state is presented to the rest of the world and able to engage with it. The external face of constitutions is manifest in a range of ways: the definition of the citizenry and territory of the state; commitments to particular international policy positions, such as peace or multilateralism; provisions for the status of international law; and the creation and empowerment of institutions responsible for conducting international relations on behalf of the state.
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 tackled four themes:
- 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.
As a result of the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, this Melbourne Forum was held as a series of four online seminars.
View recordings of the seminars and links to the papers for each speaker