Introducing 2013-14 CT Fellow Wojciech Sadurski

Constitutional Transitions is proud to introduce Wojciech Sadurski, one of six visiting fellows to join the Center this semester. Sadurski is visiting from the University of Sydney, Australia, where he is the Challis Professor of Jurisprudence. Throughout his career, Sadurski has engaged with theoretical and practical questions regarding constitutional transitions, applying his thinking to national contexts across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), and further afield to the emerging transition in Burma. During his year at NYU, Sadurski is also a Joint Straus / Senior Emile Noël Fellow and a Global Professor of Law.

Sadurski’s research includes a theoretical branch, drawing on legal philosophy and liberal theory, alongside more empirical research in comparative constitutionalism in transitioning societies. From the former perspective, he has explored questions of legal theory and distributive justice, looking in particular at questions of state neutrality, freedom of expression, and regulation of racial hate speech. In 2008, he published Equality and Legitimacy, which explores the relationship between those two notions in a democratic society, and argues that a state’s legitimacy is a function of its efforts to establish equality, and especially to further “luck egalitarianism,” whereby individuals are insured against social deprivations that derive from factors beyond their control.

His work has also focused on specific constitutional transitions, often in comparative perspective. From 1999 to 2009, Sadurski served as a Professor of Legal Theory at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. From that vantage point, he was well positioned to observe various CEE countries as they continued to transform from communism toward democracy and as they sought and achieved access to the Council of Europe and European Union. The opportunity led to one of his major works, Rights Before Courts: A Study of Constitutional Courts in Postcommunist States of Central and Eastern Europe. Originally published in 2005, Sadurski is currently undertaking comprehensive updates for a second edition, to be completed this year. The new sections will offer additional insight on the effects of European integration, and the instances of backsliding into authoritarianism that have occurred recently in Hungary, Romania, and to a lesser extent in Poland. Last summer, Sadurski published another book, Constitutionalism and the Enlargement of Europe, that documents his thinking about the impact of European accession on constitutionalism in the CEE region.

Sadurski’s expertise in these matters formed a central piece of his presentation at the  Constitutional Transitions & Global and Comparative Law Colloquium, during a panel discussion entitled, “Backsliding into Authoritarianism in Europe? Reflections on Hungary and Romania.” Sadurski’s remarks focused on “backlash” versus “Euro-straitjacket” theories of post-accession developments in the new member states of the EU. A synopsis of his presentation is available here; more information on the November 6 panel can be found here.

Following a 2011 meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, Sadurski has become directly involved in the nascent constitutional transition in Burma. In May 2013, he organized a four-day workshop on constitutional democracy in Yangon, attended by members of both regime and reform parties, as well as representatives from various ethnic groups, non-governmental organizations, law associations, the media, and the military. Though Sadurski remains fully aware of the challenges facing Burma—describing the constitution as a textbook case of a pathological guiding document—he optimistically noted that follow-up events to the 2013 workshop are already planned for next year. The workshop helped to identify positive and palatable alternatives to the current framework, examining topics such as decentralization and federalism, separation of powers, judicial independence, and the role of constitutional courts, among others.

We hope you will join us in welcoming Wojciech Sadurski to the Center. To read his full biography, please click here.

Related:

Introducing 2013-14 CT Fellow Christopher McCrudden
(30 November 2013)

Introducing Fall 2013 CT Fellow Lech Garlicki
(2 November 2013)

Introducing Fall 2013 CT Fellow Mohammad Fadel
(2 November 2013)

Introducing 2013-14 CT Fellow David Dyzenhaus
(12 October 2013)

Introducing 2013-14 CT Fellow George Anderson
(12 October 2013)

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