What is Constitutional Transformation?

Constitutional transformation is the practice of constitution making and change. It encompasses:

  • Making new constitutions or major changes to existing constitutions
  • Processes prior to constitution-making, such as conflict resolution, peace building or catalysts for change
  • Processes after formal constitutional change, including transition, implementation and interpretation

Constitutional transformation is a time of great promise, but also difficulty and risk. By combining an understanding of the particular context of the polity undertaking constitutional change with comparative insights from the diversity of world experience, the promise of constitutional change can be realised, and the risks mitigated.

Constitutional transformation also refers to a major conceptual shift in how we understand the idea of a constitution itself. Most people share a general understanding of a Constitution as the framework of government for a state and its people. Beyond this, different understandings of the idea of a Constitution emerge from different constitutional traditions, different contexts in which Constitutions take effect, and different purposes that they serve. In addition, the interface between international and domestic influences increasingly affects how we understand constitutions, as regional and international bodies begin to take constitutional forms and domestic constitutions are ‘internationalised’.

ConTransNet’s teaching and research projects explore all aspects of constitutional transformation.

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What do we do?

The Constitution Transformation Network is a network of scholars and practitioners with expertise and experience in making, changing and understanding constitutions. Based at Melbourne Law School, Australia, its work has a global reach, with a particular focus on Asia and the Pacific

The Constitution Transformation Network offers:

  • Research into the practice and theory of constitutional transformation
  • Advice on constitutional change and design in specific polities, on a public or confidential basis
  • Brokered connections between country experts, comparative scholars and practitioners
  • Workshops and events exploring the practice and theory of constitutional transformation
  • Teaching and capacity-building programs
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Our Expertise

We have expertise in:

  • Constitutional law
  • Comparative constitutional law
  • International law
  • Military and international humanitarian law
  • Regional law

We work across all regions of the world, with a particular focus on Asia and the Pacific.

Our Values

We believe that a strong understanding of local context is critically important to the theory and practice of constitutional transformation.

We are committed to a practice of comparative constitutional law that is sensitive to the local context and local ownership of constitutions.

We value the range of insights to be gained by working closely with our networks of practitioners, scholars and local and international organisations.

We are committed to sharing our expertise to make a genuine difference to constitutional transformation in theory and practice.

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Our Networks

The Constitution Transformation Network brings together researchers, practitioners and organisations interested in the phenomenon of constitutional transformation.

ConTransNet Convenors are a group of scholars with significant expertise and experience in constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, federalism, democracy-building and government.

Sectoral Expert Affiliates are scholars from Melbourne Law School with expertise in areas relating to constitutional transformation, including international law, military and humanitarian law, mining and resources and constitutional rights.

Regional Expert Affiliates are experts on the constitutional systems of states and regions.

Partner Institutions currently include Dem-Dec: Democratic Decay and Renewal, International IDEA and Conciliation Resources.

ConTransNet draws on these affiliates, and an extensive network of scholars and practitioners in our projects, to inform country-specific, comparative and theoretical research and share a diversity of insights.

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