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Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development | Research

Research Projects

Our current research projects include:

  1. Democracy and Constitutionalism in Central Asia 

    Main Researcher: Dr. Carna Pistan

    The project on "The Role of Constitutional Courts in the Challenges to Democratization and Protection of Human Rights in Central Asia" aims to examine the progress made during the last two decades by the five former Soviet Union republics of Central Asia in their efforts to introduce democratic reforms and to identify the major obstacles they have encountered up to now. In addressing this topic a special evaluation is made of the contribution offered to these efforts by Constitutional Courts and the functions and tasks assigned to these constitutional adjudication bodies in further strategies for democratization and protection of human rights. The study on the role played by Central Asian Constitutional Courts is particularly relevant because the outcomes of the research could shed light on problems and obstacles that countries may encounter during the democracy building process not only in the post-Soviet Union sphere but also in other regions that seem hostile to democratization such as Asia and the Middle East. Thus, a successful democratic transition in Central Asia may also serve as a model to nearby countries that face the same challenges. Read more.
  2. Elections in European Conditionality. Transitions and Established Democracies

    Main Researcher: Dr. Sara Pennicino

    The Treaty of Lisbon has given a higher profile to the principles under which the EU acts: democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity and the principles of equality and solidarity. All external actions of the Union, including those aimed at enhancing democracy outside the Union, are now coordinated under the EU external action. In particular, support to elections takes the form of electoral assistance projects and EU election observation missions. These are independent but complementary activities implemented through different financial instruments (geographic funds for electoral assistance and centrally managed EIDHR funds for observation missions) acting in the context of a strategic approach on electoral assistance elaborated by the EU Commission. The focus is placed on the support to the institutional capacity of EMBs and the long-term needs of civil society, rather than supporting ad hoc projects aimed at specific electoral events. Read more.
  3. Transitional Law and the Challenge of the Arab Spring

    Main Researcher: Dr. Francesco Biagi

    The so-called "Arab Spring" involves several countries characterized by geographical proximity, similar culture and religion and, until recently, an authoritarian (or semi-authoritarian) regime. Through a legal analysis of the processes of transition in the countries of North Africa involved in this process (i.e. Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Algeria), the project aims at identifying the reasons why these countries, despite the analogies mentioned above, have chosen different constitutional paths to try to abandon the previous regimes and attempt to establish a democratic State. Thus, the legal analysis represents an instrument to give political answers to the processes taking place in the Arab countries of North Africa. Read more.
  4. Europeanisation and Legal Reforms in the Western Balkans

    Main Researcher: Dr. Marko Milenkovic

    Countries of the Western Balkans (WB) have gone the long way of democratic transition, constitutional change and Europeanisation during the two decades long EU integration process. It has been recognized that is crucial to secure stable and efficient institutions in order to ensure long-lasting peace, consolidate democracy, enable the rule of law and economic progress. In order for this consolidation to materialize, further attention should be devoted to the development and strengthening of the institutions guaranteeing the democratic process and the rule of law in a complex Western Balkans context. As the transformation of the region is mainly driven by the influence of the European Union and its conditionality policy, the project concentrates on the specificities of the ongoing phase of integration, impediments and challenges that institutions and public administration are facing in WB thus aiming to provide academic analysis and policy proposals for their empowerment. The project specifically aims to explore the consequences of the EU enlargement fatigue on reforms processes in the WB societies, but also on reverse process of "accession fatigue", and look into strategies for further reforms in the context of unsecure EU membership prospects. The project is particularly looking into public administration reforms with the emphasis on the agencification process, state aid reforms and the protection of the environment.

  5. Constitutional History: Comparative Perspectives

    Sponsored by: University of Illinois College of Law, University of Bologna School of Law, Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development, Accademia delle Scienze dell?Istituto di Bologna

    While comparative constitutional law is a well-established field, less attention has been paid so far to the comparative dimensions of constitutional history. The Illinois-Bologna Conference on Comparative Constitutional History aims to address that shortcoming by energizing the study and analysis of constitutional history from comparative perspectives. The Conference has several interrelated goals. It will provide a forum for presentation and discussion of current research on issues of constitutional history that crosses national boundaries. Relevant topics in this regard include such things as the origins of constitutional governments in different nations, changes in constitutional structures over time, comparative studies of the shifting roles of constitutional actors, the development of individual rights in different systems, and the legitimacy and longevity of constitutions in various nations.
  6. Constitutionalism in Illiberal Democracies

    Research Group of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL)

    This research group on "Constitutionalism in Illiberal Democracies" of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) addresses in comparative perspective the modern current of illiberal constitutionalism and the challenges it poses on accepted notions of constitutional law. The research group will also include the analysis of past examples, in order to explore similarities, identify possible patterns of authoritarian 'constitutionalism' and draw lessons which may help to better understand this phenomenon.

  7. Celebrating German Constitutionalism? 100 years of German constitutions and their challenges

    Main Researcher: Jonas Präfke & Miriam Siemes

    This year, Germany celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Weimar Constitution and the 70th anniversary of its Basic Law. To commemorate its constitutionalizing and democratization process, it is due time to reflect on the lessons learned from Germany's experiences. This leads to important research questions: How have the lessons of the Weimar Republic shaped the German Basic Law of 1949? How does the Basic Law still shape the political debates today? Have Germany's experiences been similar to other world?s regions and broader issue areas? Ultimately, this project hopes to contribute to a debate aimed at raising awareness of the difficulties of state-building processes and the need for continuity and protection of core laws and norms while allowing to adapt to new challenges.

  8. The Azadi Project

    The Center for Constitutional Development and Democratic Studies funds and assists the organization of The Azadi Project aiming to empower refugee women and girls in Europe to facilitate their integration into host communities and local labour markets.

    Azadi means freedom or liberation in Hindi, Urdu and Farsi. The Azadi project is based on the principles of freedom, integration and dignity. By offering digital skills, Azadi helps female refugees to pursue educational or employment opportunities that contribute to their future livelihoods - beyond the borders where they come from and where they currently reside. Read more.


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