Book Release July 2015

AN INQUIRY INTO THE EXISTENCE OF GLOBAL VALUES: Through the Lens of Comparative Constitutional Law, edited by Dennis Davis, Alan Richter and Cheryl Saunders, Hart Publishing, 2015.

Finally – after much delay -- our book has been published, is now available, and can be ordered online at: http://www.hartpub.co.uk

 

Here is a short summary, taken from the Introduction and Conclusion chapters of the book:

“The world appears to be globalising economically, technologically and even, to a halting extent, politically. This process of globalisation raises the possibility of an international legal framework, a possibility which has gained pressing relevance in the wake of the recent global economic crisis.  But for any international legal framework to exist, normative agreement between countries, with very differing political, economic, cultural and legal traditions, becomes necessary.

This work explores the possibility of such a normative agreement through the prism of national constitutional norms. Since 1945, more than a hundred countries have adopted constitutional texts which incorporate, at least in part, a Bill of Rights. These texts reveal significant similarities. The essays in this book, covering 15 countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, South Africa, the UK, the US and Venezuela -- examine the depth of these similarities, in particular the extent to which textual borrowings are extended to the development of foundational values in these different national legal systems and the extent of the similarities or differences between these values and the priorities accorded to them.   Contributors were asked to assess whether and how their national constitutional orders reflected certain values, whether their constitutional order prioritised particular values and whether the values reflected in their constitutional order were congruent with values which were respected in the society of which the constitution was a part.

Unsurprisingly, there is a considerable overlap in values as they appear in the various texts under scrutiny. Freedom for example, receives almost unanimous mention in the various constitutions which are canvassed. The same holds true of the values of community/family and reverence for life.

The key question raised in this book concerns the extent to which the exponential growth in national constitutions of which the texts studied in this book are but illustrative, may provide some evidence of the possibility of a common constitutional discourse which, in turn, is predicated on some measure of reasoned agreement about shared values. Broad agreement on an idea of a rule of law, equality, and life, for example, and even a narrow agreement on freedom, in particular, reveals some significant transcendence of national boundaries as the expansion of the constitutional enterprise begins to prod countries towards some form of tentative, but developing common, global framework of values.

Hence, while this book cannot claim to have justified the conclusion that the basis of a coherent international language of values and system of recognised rights exists, there lies in the praxis of constitutionalism, the outline of a discernible framework which holds the possibility for a future cosmopolitan claim. And this conclusion in turn holds significant normative and legal possibilities for a form of shared political and legal discourse which may, at some point, transcend national boundaries, history and culture.”

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