Book Launch: Eternity Clauses in Democratic Constitutionalism

Event date
16 June 2021
Event time
17:00 - 18:30
Oxford week
TT 8
Zoom Webinar
Silvia Suteu; Hayley Hooper; Ewan Smith; Renáta Uitz; Nick Barber, University College London; University of Oxford; University of Oxford; Central European University; University of Oxford

Notes & Changes

Register here. Please note that this event may be recorded, with the exception of any live audience questions.

Logo of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights.
Logo of Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government.
The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and the Programme for the Foundations of Law & Constitutional Government are delighted to welcome you to the launch of the book Eternity Clauses in Democratic Constitutionalism (OUP 2021) by Silvia Suteu.

Cover of the book 'Eternity Clauses in Democratic Constitutionalism'
‘Eternity Clauses in Democratic Constitutionalism’ analyses unamendability in democratic constitutionalism and engages critically and systematically with its perils. The 'dark side' of unamendability includes its propensity to insulate majoritarian, exclusionary, and internally incoherent values, as well as its sometimes purely pragmatic role in elite bargaining. The book adopts brings to the fore a variety of case studies from non-traditional jurisdictions, for these insights from the periphery illuminate the prospects of unamendability fulfilling its intended aims – protecting constitutional democracy foremost among them. With its promise most appealing in transitional, post-conflict, and fragile democracies, unamendability reveals itself, counterintuitively, to be both less potent and potentially more dangerous in precisely these contexts. The book also places the rise of eternity clauses in the context of other trends including: the transnational embeddedness of constitution-making and constitutional adjudication; the rise of popular participation in constitutional reform processes; and democratic backsliding in liberal democracies.

Silvia Suteu will be joined by discussants Hayley Hooper (University of Oxford), Ewan Smith (University of Oxford) and Renáta Uitz (Central European University). The discussion will be chaired by Nick Barber (University of Oxford).

An audio recording of this event is available to listen to on Soundcloud


Photo of Silvia Suteu.

Dr Silvia Suteu is Lecturer in Public Law at University College London. She was previously a tutor and ESRC Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, where she also co-founded and convened the Constitutional Law Discussion Group and acted as Associate Director for Research Engagement of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law. Prior to that, she held research positions at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (on the Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project), the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University (HPCR), and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She currently also serves as manager of the UK Constitutional Law Association Blog. Silvia’s current research interests are in comparative constitutional law and constitutional theory. She is especially interested in the theory and practice of deliberative constitutional change, constitutional entrenchment and democratic theory (in particular eternity clauses), transitional constitutionalism, and gender-sensitive constitution-making. Silvia has provided legal expertise on constitution building to organisations including Democracy Reporting International, the Euromed Feminist Initiative, International IDEA and UN Women.


A photo of Hayley Hooper.

Hayley J. Hooper is an Associate Professor in Law. She is also an academic affiliate of the Bonavero Institute for Human Rights. She holds an LL.B from the University of Glasgow, and a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL), M.Phil in Law, and a D.Phil in Law from the University of Oxford. Her teaching interests include European Union Law, Constitutional Law, and Administrative Law. Her interests are broadly within the fields of Constitutional Law and Administrative Law. Hayley is the co-author of Parliament's Secret War (Hart: Bloomsbury, 2018). This book concerns war powers in the British Constitution and offers a critical inquiry into the Westminster Parliament's role in relation to the war prerogative since the beginning of the twentieth century. Hayley is also working on a monograph on the closed material procedure, a process that facilitates the use of national security evidence in civil litigation. 

A photo of Ewan Smith.

Dr Ewan Smith is an Early Career Fellow at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and an Associate at the Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government, and at the Oxford University China Centre. Before coming to Christ Church, Ewan was the Shaw Foundation Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College. Ewan read law at Brasenose College, at the University of Paris and at Harvard Law School. He has previously taught at SOAS and at Tsinghua and Renmin Universities in China and has been a Visiting Researcher at Peking University and at the National University of Singapore. He is admitted to practice in New York, where he worked for Debevoise and Plimpton LLP. Before returning to Oxford, he spent ten years at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Ewan’s work looks at how rules govern powerful institutions, with a focus on foreign relations law and comparative public law. He is currently working on a monograph on the relationship between the written and unwritten constitutions and on two further research projects, Treaties, Brexit and the Constitution, and Partisanship and the Constitution. Ewan teaches Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, EU Law and Jurisprudence (FHS) Constitutional Theory (BCL) and Law and Public Policy (MPP).

Photo of Renata Uitz.

Renáta Uitz started teaching at the Central European University in 2001 and became a professor of law in 2009. She was appointed chair (director) of the Comparative Constitutional Law program in 2007 and served twice as head of the Department of Legal Studies (2012-15 and 2018-20). Her major research interests lie in transition to and from constitutional democracy, the protection of individual autonomy and religious liberty. Her current work focuses on constitutions at work and the rule of law in the wake of illiberal political practices and constitutional chicanery. She has taught courses, both at CEU and internationally, covering subjects in comparative constitutional law and human rights in practice. Her recent books include The Constitution of Freedom: An Introduction to Legal Constitutionalism (OUP, 2017), the co-edited volume Critical Essays on Human Rights Criticism (Eleven, 2020), and the forthcoming co-edited Routledge Handbook of Illiberalism. In AY 2020-21 she is on research leave, as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at University College, London.  


A photo of Nick Barber.

Nick Barber joined the Oxford Law Faculty in 1998 as a Fixed Term Fellow at Brasenose, moving to a tenured Fellowship at Trinity College in 2000. He holds an MA from Oxford and the BCL, and is a non-practicing barrister and member of Middle Temple. In 2013 he was appointed University Lecturer in Constitutional Law and in 2017 he was appointed Professor of Constitutional Law and Theory. In 2012 and 2013 he was a visiting Professor at Renmin University, China. He has lectured extensively on constitutional law and theory in many countries. He has published many papers in these areas, and his book - The Constitutional State – was published in 2011, and has been widely reviewed. His second book, The Principles of Constitutionalism, was published by Oxford University Press in summer 2018.  His most recent book, The United Kingdom Constitution: An Introduction will be published in the Clarendon Law Series in late 2021. He was founder editor of the United Kingdom Constitutional Law Blog, and he was a co-author, with Jeff King and Tom Hickman, of the blog post that sparked the litigation in Miller, a post which first advanced the arguments eventually adopted by the High Court and Supreme Court. Alongside Richard Ekins, he is co-director of The Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government. He is currently Associate Dean (Research).

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Bonavero Institute of Human Rights & Programme for the Foundations of Law & Constitutional Government

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Human Rights Law