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4th Congress of the WCCJ

The 4th Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice under the topic “The Rule of Law and Constitutional Justice in the Modern World” was organised by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania in co-operation with the Venice Commission and took place in Vilnius on 11-14 September 2017.

The 4th Congress of the WCCJ in Vilnius received record interest. It was attended by representatives from the constitutional justice institutions of 91 different countries of the world. Among them, there were representatives from 85 members of the WCCJ and 2 constitutional justice institutions that were not members of this organisation, delegations from the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the General Court of the European Union, as well as other guests. In total, this event in Vilnius attracted 422 participants and guests.

The participants had an opportunity to discuss the topic of the 4th Congress in 5 separate sessions. Each session had a different subtopic, which were as follows:

  • 1) The different concepts of the rule of law;
  • 2) New challenges to the rule of law;
  • 3) The law and the state;
  • 4) The law and the individual;
  • 5) Independence of Constitutional Courts – Stocktaking.

The representatives of constitutional justice institutions from various countries discussed the diversity of the concepts of the rule of law in different states, the role of constitutional courts in ensuring the rule of law, the protection of human constitutional rights, and the independence of constitutional courts.

The Vilnius Communiqué states that, despite the fact that the principle of the rule of law is interpreted in each state in a specific manner, it nonetheless constitutes the cornerstone of every legal system in the modern world, where it is integrally linked to democracy and the protection of human rights. The rule of law is a generally recognised principle, inseparable from the constitution itself. As a fundamental constitutional principle, it requires that the law be based on certain universal values.

Constitutional Courts ensure the respect for and the implementation of national constitutions and exert a strong influence on shaping the content of the principle of the rule of law. The different aspects of this principle are revealed in the case law on constitutional justice. The impact of constitutional justice on the strengthening of the state under the rule of law and on ensuring the protection of individual rights is as essential as is the interest to explore it.

The discussions at the 4th Congress on the independence of constitutional courts showed that a number of courts had come under pressure from the executive and the legislative powers of their respective countries, but also from the media. This generally occurred when courts rendered decisions that displeased other state powers or political actors. Several courts had been subjected to fierce and unfair criticism.

 

The 4th Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice was hosted by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania and organised in co-operation with the Venice Commission. Photo by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania