Workshop: "‘Global Constitutionalism: Asian Pacific Perspectives"

29 March 2019

In March 2019, ConTransNet members Cheryl Saunders and Anna Dziedzic participated in a workshop on ‘Global Constitutionalism: Asian Pacific Perspectives’ organised by the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law.

The workshop explored how polities in the Asia Pacific region respond to global constitutionalism, which for the purposes of this study focused on the global movement of constitutional ideas and institutions across national borders. The papers, summarised in this Report on the Workshop for I-Connect by Bui Ngoc Son, explored forms of external influence in constitution making and engagement by judges with the constitutional jurisprudence of courts within the region and beyond, and how states in the region have responded to these manifestations of global constitutionalism.

Professor Cheryl Saunders’ Keynote presentation considered the extent to which the very concept of a constitution is shared across the world and the extent to which it is undergoing change in current conditions of globalisation. Her presentation considered the importance of the ‘external face’ of a constitution, through which a state and its people define themselves against those outside the state and which structures the way in which the state participates in the international realm.

Anna Dziedzic drew on her studies of Pacific judiciaries to examine how the use of foreign judges might contribute to global constitutionalism. Her paper identified the ways in which foreign judges might be agents of global constitutionalism: as mechanisms through which external ideas and influences are imported into Pacific constitutional systems; as expressions of institutional judicial values; and as constitutional transfers themselves. Her paper highlighted some of the ways in which Pacific states have utilised foreign judges in ways that counter the risks associated with the ‘internationalisation’ of their judiciaries.

The Workshop as a whole was important for examining the phenomenon of global constitutionalism in Asia-Pacific contexts. This regional focus brought to the fore the connections between global constitutionalism and imperialism; the relevance of sub-regional groupings and ties to the movement of constitutional ideas (and responses to such movement) and emerging forms of regionalism and global constitutionalism in Asia, seen for example in the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions.