UCL Faculty of Laws


Dr Myriam Hunter-Henin participates in webinar on Constitutionalism, Democracy and the Rule of Law

20 July 2020

Dr Hunter-Henin delivered an online presentation about constitutional democracy in Western legal systems as part of a webinar organised by the LUISS Guido Carli School of Government and the Reconnect Project.

Dr Myriam Hunter-Henin

Dr Myriam Hunter-Henin, Reader in Law and Religion and Comparative Law at UCL Laws, gave an assessment on democracy’s decay and the crisis of liberal constitutional values in the context of a webinar on “Constitutionalism, Democracy and the Rule of Law” organised by LUISS Guido Carli School of Government and the Reconnect Project on 17th July 2020.

Dr Hunter-Henin gave a presentation in the first roundtable on Constitutional Democracy in Trouble?, which discussed and critically assessed the ongoing crisis of our constitutional democracies in Western legal systems. Several “consolidated democracies”, in Europe and beyond, are undergoing a process of gradual erosion from within. The panelists considered the following questions: What are the basic tenets of constitutional democracies and when do they become democracies disfigured? How does this process come about and what are the consequences for fundamental principles like separation of powers and pluralism? The panel examined how populism, the “constitutional identity” discourse, the tension between religious freedoms and democratic “vivre ensemble” and, lately, the coronavirus pandemic have let a diffused constitutional malaise to emerge and to endure over time.

Dr Hunter-Henin examined these questions through the lens of religious freedom. She underlined that controversies over religious freedom provide useful case-studies of the current ills of democracy. However, religious freedom, she argues, can also point to ways forward. An inclusive deliberative approach to religious freedom, as developed in her recent monograph, Why Religious Freedom Matters for Democracy. Comparative Reflections from Britan and France, Hart 2020, Comparative Public Law Series, would be, she submits, a welcome step in that direction.