Forza Italia!…

Friends of the CCSDD, please consider donating to the GoFundMe fundraiser by Elif Nisa Polat:

Forza Italia!

The Fondazione Sant’Orsola ONLUS, in agreement with the Policlinico, has activated a fundraising campaign in support of the hospitals and healthcare staff in Bologna. This campaign will support 2 organizations in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy:

1. Sant’Orsola Foundation, which supports hospitals in Bologna and health workers who are on the frontlines of the fight against the Coronavirus.

2. Civil Protection Agency, which provides wide-range support in identifying infected individuals, logistics, and emergency response.

The proceedings of this campaign will be split in half between those institutions in order to provide support to those trying to limit the spread of the virus and those treating patients. Even a small donation can help this campaign reach its fundraising goal. And if you cannot make a donation, please feel free to share and help spread the word!

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Montenegro Summer School 2020

The #CCSDD is pleased to announce the “EU and Legal Reform” 2020 Summer School will be held July 6 – 13 in Montenegro! The application process is open and a number of full and partial scholarships are available.

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Sarajevo Study Trip 2020

In this year’s edition of the CCSDD Sarajevo Study Trip, our student group explored the post-conflict reconstruction process in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Through meetings with representatives of national institutions, major non-governmental organizations, international media outlets, educational institutions, and foreign diplomatic missions, participants gained a rich understanding of the triumphs, failures, and ambitions of rebuilding this war-torn country. The lessons learned from the trip are not only important for rebuilding BiH, but also other conflict-affected areas around the world.

The 4-day study trip kicked off with a citywide tour of Sarajevo spanning sites from the Bosnian War. On our tour, we had the opportunity to visit several significant historical and cultural sites, including the Historical Museum of BiH, and the Old Jewish Cemetery atop Mount Trebevic where Serb militias had taken key positions during the siege of the city. The tour allowed us to gain a sense of what Sarajevo endured during the conflict, and served as a proper introduction for meetings and discussions which followed during our visit.

The meetings addressed ongoing efforts being made by the international community to rebuild BiH. The first took place at Al Jazeera Balkans, where participants were given a chance to understand how the press operates in the Balkans today. Mass media entities like Al Jazeera continue to face numerous challenges in reaching out to viewers across the Balkans, especially considered the fractured political and national state of affairs. Next up, we visited the Italian Embassy where we met with the Ambassador of Italy to BiH. It was a great opportunity to learn about the country from a diplomat’s point-of-view and to understand the Western European relationship with BiH and the Balkans, as well as the intersection between European Union and Italian foreign policy. Later we visited the offices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which focuses on regional security, civil liberty, and freedom of the press. It was a great opportunity for students to learn about the most pressing social and political issues facing BiH today, including ethnic segregation in public schools and widespread government corruption. Following the meeting with OSCE, we met with representatives at the BiH Field Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It was astonishing to learn that 92,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) still exist in BiH today, as well as the nuances surrounding policy towards migrants and refugees. We also had an opportunity to discuss the effect of the European Migrant Crisis on BiH and how recent events have affected the reintegration process of IDPs in Bosnian society.

The second day of meetings began with visits to the UN Development Programme, the Constitutional Court of BiH, and the European Union (EU) Delegation to BiH. At the UNDP, our group further explored the political struggles faced by Bosnia and Herzegovina following the end of the Bosnian War and signing of the Dayton Agreement. Even today, the country relies on the signed accord as its constitution, with a rotating trilateral presidency elected by the Bosniak, Bosnian Serb, and Bosnian Croat populations. This has caused much gridlock, political corruption, and an inability to reform due to persistent nationalist sentiment promoted by the de facto political parties in the nation. Afterwards, we visited the Constitutional Court of BiH, where we met the president of the court and learned about the role of this legal body after the signing of the Dayton Accords in 1995. Today, there are three different constitutions that exist in the country, a constitution for the Federation of BiH, a constitution for Republika Srpska, and a constitution for the country as a whole. Constitutional reform presents one of many challenges to Bosnia in becoming a full-fledged EU member state.

The last day was the excursion to Potocari and Srebrenica where we visited the memorial to the victims of the genocide and met with survivors who lost family members. At Snaga Zene, The Mother’s of Srebrenica Association, we listened to first-hand accounts of the genocide and its legacy on various Bosniak communities throughout eastern BiH. Although it was an emotionally heavy and tragic visit, it was important to hear the mothers’ stories and understand the process for rebuilding their lives. Afterwards, we visited the memorial to the more than 8,000 men and boys who lost their lives at Srebrenica. We also had the chance to visit “The Dutchbat,” the United Nations compound where Dutch UN peacekeepers were encamped during the Srebrenica crisis. Now a museum, our group toured the area and heard from an on-site historian about his connection to the conflict and genocide.

In addition to the organized meetings and excursions of our study trip, participants had the opportunity to visit religious sites, taste local foods, and experience contemporary Bosnian culture. The trip was unique in that it was an opportunity to experience Bosnia of the past and Bosnia of today, and witness firsthand the challenges faced by this country. Ultimately, the CCSDD Sarajevo Study Trip was an academic success and was well-received by all participants.

Alex Ferraz

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“European Constitutional Courts and Transitions to Democracy” – Francesco Biagi

We are very pleased to announce that CCSDD Researcher Francesco Biagi’s new book, European Constitutional Courts and Transitions to Democracy, is out! The volume, published by Cambridge University Press, brings together research on democratization processes and constitutional justice by examining the role of three generations of European constitutional courts in the transitions to democracy that took place in Europe in the twentieth century. Using a comparative perspective, Biagi examines how the constitutional courts during that period managed to ensure an initial full implementation of the constitutional provisions, thus contributing – together with other actors and factors – to the positive outcome of the democratization processes. Congratulations Francesco!

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CCSDD visits Maastricht conference: “EU Agencies as ‘Inbetweeners’? The Relationship between EU Agencies and Member States”


This past Wednesday and Thursday (December 4-5), our very own Dr. Marko Milenkovic took part in the “EU Agencies as ‘Inbetweeners’? The Relationship between EU Agencies and Member States” conference at Maastricht. Dr. Milenkovic served as the chair of panel 6, titled “EU Agencies and Member States: political and judicial accountability.” During the conference, participants discussed future activities for The Academic Research Network on EU Agencies & Institutional Innovation (TARN) network.

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Queen Mate!

December 10, 2019

Justin O. Frosini, Adjunct Professor of Constitutional Law

In his latest for Eastwest Magazine, Professor Frosini examines the September British court ruling that the prorogation of parliament called by Boris Johnson was illegal, and the ensuing divergent support base for the Queen after she approved Johnson’s advice. “It goes without saying that arguing in favour of abolishing the Monarchy is perfectly legitimate, but accusing the Queen of violating the Constitution because she did not stop Boris Johnson’s unlawful prorogation of Parliament is simply untenable.”

Read the full article here at

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Spring Break Trip to Tunisia

Sabrina Zechmeister, Johns Hopkins SAIS MA candidate and ILAW concentrator, visited Tunisia during spring break, together with a group of fellow SAIS students. During the trip, they had the opportunity to meet representatives of NGOs, the UNHCR and World Bank delegates discussing different topics such as migration, refugee and human rights protection, and exploring the progress on the democratic transition in the country.eafe754a-a8a5-484a-8d86-2605a9b0111a


This post summarizes some of the most meaningful meetings and insights from Sabrina’s trip that she felt were especially relevant to the Center’s research.

Students’ meetings:

  1. AL Bawsala,
  2. President’s advisor for youth affairs,
  3. World Bank,
  4. Arab Institute for Human Rights.

A representative of “Al Bawsala”, an NGO established under Tunisian Law, presented the organization’s three main fields of work:

  • Monitoring parliamentary activity;
  • Serving as an observatory on local authorities;
  • Examining the State’s budget, with the specific aim of identifying the use of government funds in the implementation of key policies.

During the meeting, the NGO representative also highlighted the importance of the recently drafted Constitution in the country’s democratization process. In particular, it was pointed out that the drafting was not based on a single model from another nation, but rather drew upon many foreign Constitutions, including the ones of France, Spain, Georgia, and Scandinavian countries. Additionally, it was noted that for the first time, civil society organizations are taking part in the transition process.

Finally, the meeting emphasized some recently passed laws that are contributing positively to the country’s democratization process, such as:

  • A law granting amnesty to economic agents that had transferred money abroad if the funds were transferred back to Tunisia and reinvested in the national economy,
  • A law imposing stiffer penalties for violent crimes against women.

The group also met with the President’s advisor for youth affairs, who also underscored the importance of engaging civil society members in Tunisia’s transition process. In particular, it was pointed out that the implementation of the constitution is a lengthy process and that engaging youth is of paramount importance. To this extent, it was noted that the youngest member on constitutional assembly was 23 years old, and that several policies are being put into place to ensure diversity and youth participation in the country’s political lists. It is mandated that the first 3 candidates on the list, for instance, should be 35 years old or younger and that, among the first 10, at least one should have a disability.

The President’s advisor again pointed out a few recently passed laws that were deemed particularly worth mentioning in detailing the progress of the transition:

  • The law on violence against women was mentioned again. This time, it was highlighted that the law broadened the definition of violence, raised the age of consent from 13 to 16 years old and also abrogated the law that allowed rapists to be pardoned if they married their victim. During the meeting, Tunisia was also presented as the first Arab country to achieve gender equality.
  • Tunisia’s “Start-up Act” was instead considered of particular importance in facilitating entrepreneurs to set up their business in the country, which before proved a cumbersome and lengthy process due to the heavy presence of red tape. The implementation of this law, however, was also noted to have been going rather slowly, due to recent economic imbalances in the country.

Finally, the students had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the World Bank and the Arab Institute for Human Rights.

The meeting with the World Bank’s representative noted that Tunisia is a socially stable country that so far has been fairly successful in transitioning to democracy. Some economic hardship, however, has recently hit the country, leading some segments of the population to start questioning the benefits of the revolution.

As such, the meeting pointed out three key issues that the country needs to address:

  • Political instability of the country, which makes it hard to attract foreign investments, ultimately hindering the local economy.
  • Massive brain drain, with 100’000 PhDs leaving the country every year to move primarily to Europe (80%) and the Gulf region (20%).
  • Government expenditure is currently too high and needs to be curbed to ensure the well-being of the national economy.

During the meeting with the Arab Institute for Human Rights, finally, the organization presented its work, primarily focused on capacity building and training to promote a culture recognizing universal human rights. Necessary steps to be taken in Tunisia, according to the organization’s view, involve working with traditional civil society organizations and institutions for capacity building and to establish a generalized rights-based approach, as well as reforming the security and school sectors. On this last point, the Institute also explained that extensive work is done with children in school to instill in them the notion of Human Rights and teach them the value of their protection.





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