UCL Faculty of Laws


Hybrid | The Executive’s Constitution

17 January 2024, 2:00 pm–3:30 pm

Image of lady justice

This seminar is organised by the UCL Public Law Group

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws


UCL Faculty of Laws (Moot Court)
Bentham House
4-8 Endsleigh Gardens

About the Seminar

The executive makes constitutional judgment calls more often than any other branch of state, and yet very little is known about the process by which these decisions are made. Professor MacDonnell’s new empirical research takes readers inside Canada’s federal executive and offers a vivid picture of the complex intra-institutional processes by which the constitution is construed in the everyday business of government.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

About the Speaker

Image of Vanessa MacDonnell
Vanessa MacDonnell is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section) and Co-Director of the uOttawa Public Law Centre. Her research examines the constitutional functions of the executive branch, inter-institutional relationships, unwritten constitutional norms and principles, and the relationship between Canada’s legal and political constitutions. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Constitutional Law, Law & Ethics of Human Rights, the University of Toronto Law Journal and the McGill Law Journal, and she is the Canadian Principal Investigator on a $1.7 million interdisciplinary, international research project on unwritten constitutional norms and principles funded in Round 7 of the Open Research Area Competition.
About the Commentators

Commentators for this seminar include:

Image of Dr Berihun Gebeye
Dr Berihun Gebeye (Chair) is a Lecturer in Law at the UCL Faculty of Laws. Prior to joining UCL Laws, he was a Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow under the Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Comparative Constitutionalism held by Prof. Dr. Ran Hirschl at the University of Göttingen. He held visiting positions at the Columbia Law School, the Center for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford, and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. He is a Visiting Professor at the Central European University Department of Legal Studies from which he earned an S.J.D./Ph.D. in Comparative Constitutional Law (summa cum laude). He is the author of “A Theory of African Constitutionalism” (OUP 2021).


Image of Colm O'Cinneide
Colm O’Cinneide is Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at University College London(UCL). A graduate of University College Cork, he has published extensively in the field of comparative constitutional, humanrights and anti-discrimination law. He has also acted as specialist legal adviser to theJoint Committee on Human Rights and the Women & Equalities Committee of theUK Parliament, and advised a range of international organisations including theUN, ILO and the European Commission. He also was from 2006-16 a member of theEuropean Committee on Social Rights of the Council of Europe (serving as Vice-President of the Committee from 2010-4), and since 2008 hasbeen a member of the academic advisory board of Blackstone Chambers in London.



Image of Dr Ewan Smith
Dr Ewan Smith joined UCL Laws as Associate Professor of Public Law in 2022. Prior to that he was a Fellow of Christ Church, Oxford, the Shaw Foundation Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, and an Early Career Fellow at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. Ewan read law at Oxford, at the University of Paris and at Harvard Law School. He has previously worked at Peking, Tsinghua and Renmin Universities in China and at the National University of Singapore. He is admitted to practice in New York, where he worked for Debevoise and Plimpton LLP. Between 2005 and 2015, he worked for the Foreign Office.  Ewan was a Hauser Fellow at New York University Law School in 2023. In 2024, he will be a Visiting Professor at the University of Bologna.


About the Group

The UCL Public Law Group is a community of scholars working in the field of public law, broadly understood. Our aim is to provide a supportive forum for the discussion and development of theoretical and doctrinal questions in constitutional theory, comparative constitutional law, human rights, judicial review, legal and political theory, and more. 

Read more about the group and its work.
Subscribe to the Public Law Group mailing list.

Book your place

You can attend this event in-person at UCL Faculty of Laws (Bentham House, 4-8 Endsleigh Gardens, London WC1H 0EG) or alternatively you can join remotely.

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