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 20: Written versus unwritten: two views on the form of an international constitution

Bardo Fassbender


The chapter deals with a question so far addressed only cursorily in the literature about concepts of international constitutionalism – the ‘writtenness’ of an international constitutional law. Can we assume the existence of an ‘unwritten’ international constitution, or does the very concept of a constitution in the modern sense require that a constitution is laid down in written form? The chapter discusses the importance of ‘writtenness’ in modern constitutionalism and addresses the ‘English exception’, that is, the absence, in the United Kingdom, of a document called ‘the constitution’. It concludes with a plea for taking the constitutional character of the UN Charter more seriously, arguing that the idea of an unwritten constitution of the international community does not provide a viable alternative.

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