Seminars: "Redeeming the National in Constitutional Argument"

14-16 November 2020

In November, Dinesha Samaratne and Will Partlett, CTN Convenors, travelled to the University of NSW to participate in multiple panel discussions on constitution-making.

Will and Dinesha were both on a panel as part of a roundtable discussion on "Redeeming the National in Constitutional Argument". In many countries beyond the traditional comparative constitutional law canon, advocates of constitutionalism are increasingly appealing to a supra-national constitutional discourse that is frequently grounded in best practices for constitutionalism. This trend has helped to foster a nationalistic backlash which argues that constitutions should not reflect international constitutional norms but instead must reflect historically-grounded tradition or identity. How should advocates of constitutionalism understand and respond to this backlash?

Will and Dinesha argued that linking national history and the text of the national constitution to constitutionalism can help to counter this nationalist backlash.  Looking at Russia and Sri Lanka, they illustrated how this process of “redeeming the national” can provide new arguments for those interested in advancing the project of constitutionalism.  As part of this, they argued that this kind of constitutional argument can also help to uncover ways of adapting constitutional principles to particular national contexts.

Dinesha also presented a paper on "Hybridisation of Sri Lanka’s Writ Jurisdiction" at a workshop on ‘Protecting Rights, Addressing Inequality: Writs as Constitutional Transfer’, convened by UNSW Law School and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung from 15-16 November 2019. She was also a panellist at the launch of ‘The Constitution of Myanmar: A Contextual Analysis’ by Melissa Crouch on 14 November 2019.