Inalienable Rights and the Traditions of Constitutionalism


Location: Hesburgh Center & Jenkins and Nanovic Halls

This conference will explore and extend the work of the Commission on Unalienable Rights (COUR), an independent and nonpartisan body convened from 2019 through 2020 and composed of academics, philosophers, and practitioners. Its charge was to provide the US State Department with advice on human rights grounded in the nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On August 26, 2020, the Commission issued its final report, a document approved unanimously by all 11 COUR Commissioners that has since been translated into seven languages. We bring the work of the Commission into sharper focus and into dialogue with a broad range of interlocutors, including critics and including scholars and jurists from outside of the United States. The conference features an innovative and focused format that reflects this ambition, boasting five keynote addresses, a response from a member of the Commission, and a subsequent panel discussion. The objective for this arrangement is to foster substantive, balanced, engaged, and probative discussion of key ideas and issues generated by the Commission’s report.  We aim to generate an atmosphere of free inquiry, civil and collegial discourse, and lively intellectual exchange. 

Sunday, November 14

14:00 – Welcome and Introduction
Paolo Carozza, (Director of the Kellogg Institute and member of the Commission on Unalienable Rights)

THEME I: Relating a constitutional tradition to the universal and global features of human rights. 

14:15 – Theme I Keynote
Joseph Weiler (New York University), keynote presenter
Peter Berkowitz (Hoover Institution - Stanford University), respondent

15:30 – Break

15:45 – Theme I Panel Discussion
Laurence Burgorgue-Larsen (The Sorbonne), panelist
David Moore (Brigham Young University), panelist
Gresa Caka–Nimani (Constitutional Court of Kosovo), panelist
Clemens Sedmak (University of Notre Dame), moderator

Further details about this event can be found here.