Constitutions as Chains? On the Intergenerational Challenges of Constitution-Making

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Konstantin Chatziathanasiou


In this essay, I explore the ambiguity of the competition’s title “Constitutions as Chains”, and distinguish between two intergenerational challenges in constitution-making: the challenge of intergenerationally just constitutional provisions, and the challenge of creating a stable institution which is accepted by successive generations. I prioritise the latter. After contrasting classic ideas of Burke and Paine, I discuss different ways of addressing the challenge, such as the amendability of a constitution, eternity clauses or recurring constitutional assemblies. A flexible approach towards existing constitutional provisions, which is open to future developments, gets the nod. However, a need for empirical research remains.

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Author Biography

Konstantin Chatziathanasiou, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Konstantin Chatziathanasiou, Ass. iur., is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods (Bonn) and a Grotius Research Scholar at the University of Michigan Law School (Ann Arbor).