Handbook on Global Constitutionalism
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Handbook on Global Constitutionalism

Edited by Anthony F. Lang and Antje Wiener

This Handbook introduces scholars and students to the history, philosophy, and evidence of global constitutionalism. Contributors provide their insights from law, politics, international relations, philosophy, and history, drawing on diverse frameworks and empirical data sets. Across them all, however, is a recognition that the international order cannot be understood without an understanding of constitutional theory. The Handbook will define this field of inquiry for the next generation by bringing together some of the leading contemporary scholars.
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Chapter 5: The Enlightenment and global constitutionalism

Chris Thornhill


This chapter argues that, if viewed literally, the rise of global constitutionalism reflects a process which is diametrically opposed to the dynamic underpinning classical constitutions. If we can identify a global constitutional system, it is defined by (1) the primacy of international human rights law, (2) high authority of judicial bodies and (3) weakening of the constituent power of the nation. These features of the global constitution set it apart from the principles of classical constitutionalism, the defining components of which were formulated during the Enlightenment. However, if viewed more sociologically, global constitutionalism appears not to contradict, but to extend the ideas of constitutionalism proposed in the Enlightenment, and it refracts similar societal processes.

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