‘Restoring Democracy through Transnational Law’ BeEx24 Annual Lecture with Kim Scheppele

We are thrilled to announce that this year’s annual lecture on Law and Social Transformation at the Bergen Exchanges 2024 will be given by Kim Lane Scheppele on ‘Restoring Democracy through Transnational Law’.

People worried about attacks on democracy need to think beyond individual rights to the supporting institutions that make democracy possible. Transnational courts are now leading the way as they transform rights into constitutional structures that can sustain democracy.   In the last few years, we have seen the right to a fair trial transformed into a requirement of judicial independence, the right to vote transformed into a requirement of neutral election administration and the right to stand for office transformed into a justification for presidential term limits. Transnational courts – including the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights – are opening their doors to litigation aimed at preserving democracy around the world by shoring up the structural protections of national constitutions. Activists can help in this effort by bringing cases to these welcoming courts.

Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs and Director of the Program in Law and Normative Thinking at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Scheppele’s work focuses on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in constitutional systems under stress.  After 1989, Scheppele studied the emergence of constitutional law in Hungary and Russia, living in both places for extended periods. After 9/11, she researched the effects of the international “war on terror” on constitutional protections around the world.   Since 2010, she has been documenting the rise of autocratic legalism first in Hungary and then in Poland within the European Union, as well as its spread around the world.  Her many publications in law reviews, in social science journals and in many languages cover these topics and others.   Scheppele is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the International Academy of Comparative Law.  In 2014, she received the Law and Society Association’s Kalven Prize for influential scholarship and in 2024, she received a Guggenheim fellowship.   She held tenure in the in the political science department at the University of Michigan, taught full-time in the law school at the University of Pennsylvania, was the founding director of the gender program at Central European University Budapest, directed the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton for a decade and has held visiting faculty positions in the law schools at Michigan, Yale, Harvard, Erasmus/Rotterdam, and Humboldt/Berlin.    She has been a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Constitutional Law, elected as a “global jurist” and from 2017-2019, she was the President of the Law and Society Association.  Her forthcoming book Destroying (and Restoring) Democracy by Law is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.

Photographer: Frank Wojciechowski