‘Constitutional Change in the Contemporary Socialist World’ Book Panel
On 4 November 2020, a Book Panel discussed Constitutional Change in the Contemporary Socialist World (by Bui Ngoc Son), which offers a comprehensive and holistic view of an understudied and overlooked area of constitutional law, essential for anyone studying or working in law, politics, or policy.
After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, there are only five socialist or communist countries left in the world – China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam – which constitute about one-quarter of the world’s population. Yet, there is little scholarship on their constitutions. These countries have seen varying socioeconomic changes in the decades since 1991, which have led in turn to constitutional changes. This book investigates, from comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives, how and why the constitutional systems in these five countries have changed in the last three decades.
The book then examines these constitutional changes by addressing four questions: what are the substantive contents of constitutional change, what are the functions, what are the mechanisms, and what are the driving forces? These questions form a framework to examine the processes of changes the five countries have gone through, such as making new constitutions, amending current ones, introducing more rights, enacting legislation, and defining the constitutional authority of the three state branches and their relationship with the Communist Party. While all five countries have adapted their constitutional systems, the degree, mechanisms, and influential factors are not identical and vary considerably. This book examines these differences and the reasons for them.
This Book Panel was co-hosted by the Asian Law Centre and the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at Melbourne Law School. Panellists included: Bui Ngoc Son, Cheryl Saunders, William Partlett and Tarun Khaitan.
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