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17:30 to 18:30
End date
27 November 2014
White and Case Room, Faculty of Law, St Cross Road, Oxford, OX1 3UL

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Thursday, 27 November 2014 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm


Holey Union: The Constitutional Paradox of Secession

Lecture by Dr Rivka Weill, Radzyner School of Law, Israel
In this lecture, Dr Rivka Weill will demonstrate how constitutional democracies seek to prevent secessionist movements from achieving their goals by manipulating extremely potent constitutional tools at their disposal. She argues that nation states are often guilty of a lack of transparency in the use of these tools, which are generally intended to protect democratic values rather than to be used against secessionists, and that such approaches are characterized by a significant gap between ‘the law on the books’ and ‘the law as practised’. 
Drawing on case studies from the US, UK, and European countries, including Ukraine, she suggests ways that nation states could better use structural design to combat secession without compromising democratic values than currently done. 
The lecture will assess the unique challenge secessionists pose to democracies that gives rise to these legal and constitutional conflicts. It will suggest that although, by and large, constitutional democracies—even those that supposedly allow for secession—leave no option but for secessionists to resort to extra-legal means to achieve their goals, the nature of sovereignty in a given country may justify such an outcome.
The lecture will be followed by a workshop entitled The Break-Up of Nations: The Constitutional Dimensions Using Ukraine as a Case Study, to be held the following day. To reserve a place, please visit the event webpage.
Dr Rivka Weill is an Associate Professor at the Radzyner School of Law. She received her J.S.D. and LL.M. from Yale Law School and has clerked for President Aharon Barak of the Israeli Supreme Court. Her areas of expertise are Constitutional Law and Administrative Law, with a focus on both theoretical and comparative aspects.