Call for Applications: The vices and virtues of international constitutionalism

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European University Institute, PhD Training School

A three-day doctoral training school shall be held at the European University Institute, Florence, on October 20-22, 2011, in context of COST Action 1003.

The topic of this training school will be “the vices and virtues of international constitutionalism”, and submissions are invited from PhD students working in areas related to this topic who are interested in debating the topic with fellow PhD students and with internationally recognised experts in the field of interntional constitutionalism. .

The doctoral training school is intended to bring PhD students from different European countries together on topics related to COST Action 1003, International Law between Constitutionalisation and Fragmentation: the role of law in the post-national constellation. (to be found at the Action website: ).  Support can be offered to PhD students from participating countries. Currently the following countries participate in the Action: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hungary, Ireland, Sweden and the European Institute in Florence. Serbia, South Africa and Australia are currently applying for partnership.


Two recent tendencies have shaped recent discourses on international constitutionalism. On one side, the expansion of international law to areas never touched before has put into question the legitimacy and ability of international law in managing subjects that belonged previously to states. On the other side, international law is fragmenting into functionally separated regimes, challenging the unity and coherence of international law. This has prompted scholars to apply a constitutionalist reading of international law as an attempt to impose order, e.g. via the construction of legal hierarchy and the prioritization of certain values. Critics, however, have pointed at possible pitfalls and dangers of a constitutionalist reading of international law, including the risk of imposing specific values – e.g. Western, democratic, capitalist –  and a particular understanding of order, to the detriment of those who beg to differ. Consequently, the feasibility of the further development of international constitutionalism warrants examination.

Set up

The school will last for three days.

On the first day, senior experts in the field of international constitutionalism from international law and international relations will present and discuss their work with the PhD candidates. Core topics on the first day will be: the promises and pitfalls of  domestic analogies, constitutionalism and the politics of legalism, constitutionalism, liberalism and hegemony, and the use of constitutional language in debates on the responsibility to protect.  So far we have confirmations from the following speakers:

Dr. Veronika Bilkova (Law Faculty of the Charles University and Institute of International Relations in Prague), Dr. Catherine Van de Heyning (University of Antwerp) Dr. Sarah Nouwen (Cambridge University), Dr. Nikolas Rajkovic  (Austrian Academy of Sciences), and Prof. Dr. Wouter Werner (VU University Amsterdam).

The second and third day will be devoted to the research of the PhD candidates themselves.  PhD candidates present their work, and will receive detailed feedback from senior scholars and fellow PhD students.

Financial support

Participants can apply for financial support to attend the PhD training school.


PhD candidates are invited to discuss the constitutionalism debate, with a focus pitfalls and/or promises constitutionalist readings of international law.

Submissions will be accepted until September 1st, 2011.

Submissions should specify:

  • The basic outline of the PhD project (max. 500 words)
  • How the PhD projects fits in COST Action 1003 as well as in the general topic of the PhD training school (max. 500 words)
  • Whether financial assistance is required. Please specify the amount requested.


Applications will be prioritized according to their relevance and closeness to the topic of the training school and the research agenda of the Action.

For any queries or to submit complete applications, please contact one of the following two coordinators:


Ciaran Burke, ciaran.burke {at} eui(.)eu or

Alexis Galan, alexis.galan {at} eui(.)eu.

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