Institute for Constitutional Law

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The Constitutional Law Institute forms part of the Department of Public Law. The range of its research encompasses all aspects of constitutional law, broadly understood.

In the field of state organisation, the Institute has a long research tradition in federalism, constitutional courts, the rule of law, and democracy.
- Research relating to federalism covers both Belgian and foreign federal structures. Its publications include federalism's theoretical foundations, the justiciability of secession, Belgium's constitutional history, Belgian state reforms, federal and federated competences, and comparative research into a wide range of general and specific issues in the field of federalism.
- Research relating to constitutional courts considers both Belgian and foreign supreme courts, addressing their role, jurisdiction, and jurisprudence. Important topics include relations between national constitutional courts and supranational tribunals (e.g. ECtHR, ECJ), the relationship between constitutional courts and supreme courts of ordinary or administrative jurisdiction, the constitutional court's jurisdiction over national and international human rights, its role in a federal State, and its political role.
- Research relating to the rule of law includes a wide range of topics, such as the separation of powers, judicial protection against government interference, judicial review, techniques of proper legislation, the hierarchy of norms, state liability, and the tension between sovereignty and the rule of law.
- Research relating to democracy comprises Belgian, European, and comparative topics on legislative institutions, the active and passive right to vote, the organisation of the elections, the role of political parties, and the structure of democratic constitutions.
In the field of human rights, the Institute focuses on human rights in the Belgian Constitution as well as in the European Convention on Human Rights. The publications of Institute members include those dealing with national and supranational courts having jurisdiction over human rights, with children's rights, minority protection, and specific human rights provisions.
- Research relating to courts having human rights jurisdiction includes publications about courts of original jurisdiction, constitutional courts, supranational courts, and the relations between them, and focusing on jurisdiction, procedure, judicial backlog, the standing of individual complainants, and the justiciability of actions.
- Research relating to children's rights was financed by Belgian Federal Science Policy Office, and resulted in a Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child", which provides an article by article analysis of all provisions of this Convention and its two Optional Protocols.
- Research relating to minority rights resulted in doctoral theses on minority protection in Belgium as well as in South Africa. The main areas of research are the protection of linguistic groups, minority protection in federal states, and the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities.
- Research relating to specific human rights provisions includes the principle of equality, the right to due process, the right to a trial within a reasonable time, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the protection of property, and social, cultural and economic rights as well as bio-ethical problems.
Since many of its members also hold positions with the Belgian Constitutional Court and the Belgian Council of State, or carry on the practice of law, the Institute guarantees a working symbiosis between theory and practice.