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Content updated: 04-10-2019 12:07

Constitutional judges and legal scholars in Vilnius are discussing challenges to democracy


The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, together with Professor Rainer Arnold from the University of Regensburg (Germany), is holding the XXII International Congress on European and Comparative Constitutional Law “The Concept of Democracy as Developed by Constitutional Justice” (hereinafter referred to as the Congress) in Vilnius on 4–5 October.

Almost ninety constitutional judges and constitutional law scholars from Albania, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and USA are participating in the Congress. The congresses on European and comparative constitutional law, organised on the initiative of Professor Rainer Arnold, have a unique format. The essence of the XXII Congress is not to present the jurisprudence of the constitutional courts and insights of legal scholars from various countries, but to raise issues and seek their solutions, as well as to test the validity of proposed solutions.

The President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, welcoming the participants of the Congress, stressed that the judges and legal scholars in attendance would be faced with the difficult task of finding solutions to the challenges for democracy through constitutional means.

“In a fast-changing world, the rules of co-existence should also change rapidly. But the legal system is not turning at the speed of modern technology, and hasty improvements to the system can lead to mistakes that already constitutional judges will have to correct”, Dainius Žalimas said. “There is no need to look far for examples – let’s remember social networks, which are already legally restricted in spreading societal flaws, but which are still a great place to share disinformation and spread propaganda that worships totalitarian ideology. States must prevent this, but in order to defend democracy it is not allowed to use any means. Political majority considerations alone must not constitute grounds for limiting freedom of expression or the independence of the judiciary.”

The participants of the congress were also greeted by the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Agnė Širinskienė, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, and the Dean of the Law School of Mykolas Romeris University, Lyra Jakulevičienė.

Over 20 years ago, Professor Rainer Arnold had the idea to bring together academic scholars, professors from universities in Europe and other continents, and judges of constitutional and European courts in order reflect together on important constitutional law issues, to exchange various views and to find common solutions. The congresses on European and comparative constitutional law have become widely known and internationally recognised, and have become an important platform for cooperation between practitioners and scholars in this field. Such a platform is important given that today’s constitutional law is no longer purely national, but it has many universal concepts that are discussed internationally and is based on the values and traditions of European and global constitutional heritage. These congresses were held for eighteen years at the University of Regensburg in Germany and later travelled to other countries: the XIX Congress was held in Moldova, the XX Congress in Gdansk, the XXI Congress in Madrid, and the organisation of the XXII Congress was entrusted to our Constitutional Court.

The XXII International Congress on European and Comparative Constitutional Law is held in Vilnius at Arkangelo Conference and Art Centre on 4–5 October 2019.