Open lecture

Constitutionalism beyond the state
Myth or necessity?

Professor Jean L. Cohen
Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Contemporary Civilization, Columbia University New York 

The Research Programme on Democracy, in cooperation with ARENA – Centre for European Studies, is pleased to announce the lecture ‘Constitutionalism beyond the state: Myth or necessity?’ by Prof. Jean L. Cohen. The lecture will be held on Thursday 30 September 2010, 10:15-12:00 at the University library (Undervisningsrom 2, Georg Sverdrups hus). No registration is required to attend the lecture.

Prof. Cohen visits Oslo to participate at the workshop 'The European Political Order: State-less but Democratic and Just?', which is organized by ARENA within the framework of WP 1 - Theoretical Framework. The workshop will be held at ARENA after the lecture, with participation restricted to invited guests.


Constitutionalism Beyond the State: Myth or Necessity?

The emergence of global governance and global laws that directly affect individuals and regulate the conduct of states toward their own citizens raise questions about the basic hierarchy of authority among states, regional bodies and global institutions. The legitimacy of global law and governance is particularly contested when they have constitutionalism- and democracy-eviscerating effects. In this lecture, Prof. Cohen asks what kind of constitutionalism is appropriate beyond the state, and what the relation among distinct and competing legal orders should be. She argues in favour of a human rights-oriented constitutionalism, which would require a reform of the global political system.

Download full abstract and paper.


Jean L. Cohen is Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Contemporary Civilization at Columbia University New York. Her research focuses on political and legal theory, and in particular democratic theory. She has contributed extensively with critical theory of feminism, pluralism and international theory. She is well-known for her book Civil society and political theory (1992), co-authored with Andrew Arato. Cohen is associate editor of Constellations, and has contributed to academic journals such as Ethics & International Affairs, Journal of Civil Society, Critical Horizons, The European Journal of Politics and Political Theory.