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What is Demcon?


The Consortium on Democratic Constitutionalism (Demcon) is an interdisciplinary and international group of legal, political and social theorists, created to promote scholarly exchange and collaboration on questions of constitutional theory, design and practice. It is committed to the view that participatory and deliberative institutions, their structure and operation, not merely formal rights guarantees, are essential concerns of constitutionalism.

The following interests and commitments define Demcon’s focus:

1. A special concern with the structure of democratic institutions and the promotion of democratic participation. Rights guarantees are a matter of strong interest, coupled with the firm sense that rights are best understood in the context of deliberative and participatory institutions. Participatory institutions can provide alternative or complementary mechanisms for achieving ends similar to rights guarantees and give substance and content to rights guarantees.

2. A special concern with cultural difference and debates about whether and how governmental institutions should respond to those differences. Thus, Demcon has a particular interest in issues of centralization and decentralization, federalism, indigenous governance, minority rights, secession and self-determination.

3. A broad conception of constitutionalism that not only includes constitutional guarantees, but other policies fundamental to political action and national self-definition: immigration policy; supranational integration and the future of sovereignty; the interpretation and enforcement of international norms; international and regional collaboration.

4. A methodological acknowledgement that institutional structures, philosophical principles and legal mechanisms emerge out of social processes and are not solely the result of formal stipulation and purposeful design. Theory should therefore be conjoined with the close examination of practice.

5. Furthermore, we seek to research and to establish networks with citizens, non-governmental and governmental agents, and collective actors who are initiating dialogue and change on the ground, especially in relation to forms of constitutionalisation at the local and global levels and to transitional constitutionalism. These practices of democratic or civic freedom today are central to our concerns in Demcon. We hope to establish a relationship between academic research and activities of civic freedom.

6. A concern with the countries of the Pacific Rim – comparisons among those countries, prospects for evolution and reform, and themes of diversity, indigenous rights, migration, and political structure as they present themselves in those countries. The focus is by no means limited to that region, but the region is a crucial area that should not be neglected.

Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social and Legal Theory

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