At its 17th meeting on 18 March 2022 (Venice and online), the Bureau of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice discussed the the preparation of the 5th Congress of the WCCJ on the topic “Constitutional Justice and Peace” that will be hosted by the Constitutional Court of Indonesia in Bali on 4-7 October 2022.
The Constitutional Court of Indonesia and the World Conference will ensure that members courts from least developped counties can participate.
At its 18th meeting on 7 June 2022 (Venice and online), the Bureau of the World Conference adopted a resolution, proposed by the Constitutional Court of Italy.
The World Conference on Constitutional Justice unites 119 Constitutional Courts and Councils and Supreme Courts in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia/Oceania and Europe. It promotes constitutional justice – understood as constitutional review including human rights case-law – as a key element for democracy, the protection of human rights and the rule of law (Article 1.1 of the Statute).
According to its Statute, the World Conference has three organs, the General Assembly, the Bureau and the Secretariat. The General Assembly is chaired by the Host Court of the Congress. The Presidency of the Bureau is ensured for one year by rotation between the groups. The Presidency of the Bureau is therefore not that of an individual Court but of a group of Courts. It is up to the groups to designate their representative. The Venice Commission acts as the Secretariat of the World Conference.
The World Conference pursues its objectives through the organisation of regular congresses, by participating in regional conferences and seminars, by sharing experiences and case-law and by offering good services to members on their request (Article 1.2 of the Statute).
The main purpose of the World Conference is to facilitate judicial dialogue between constitutional judges on a global scale. Due to the obligation of judicial restraint, constitutional judges sometimes have little occasion to conduct a constructive dialogue on constitutional principles in their countries. The exchanges that take place between judges from various parts of the world in the World Conference furthers reflection on arguments, which promote the basic goals inherent to national constitutions. Even if these texts often differ substantially, discussion on the underlying constitutional concepts unites constitutional judges from various parts of the world committed to promoting constitutionality in their own country.
As these judges sometimes find themselves in situations of conflict with other state powers because of decisions they had to hand down based on the Constitution, being part of the World Conference provides them with a forum that not only allows them to exchange information freely with their peers, but where judges from other countries can also offer moral support. This can be important in upholding constitutional principles, which the judges are called upon to defend in their line of work.
The Courts and Councils, members of and committed to the principles of the World Conference may see their membership suspended by the General Assembly of the World Conference in case of flagrant violation of these principles.
The following Courts or Councils have given written notification about their accession to the Venice Commission, which acts as the Secretariat of the World Conference (status June 2022):
1. Albania, Constitutional Court
2. Algeria, Constitutional Council
3. Andorra, Constitutional Court
4. Angola, Constitutional Court
5. Armenia, Constitutional Court
6. Australia, High Court
7. Austria, Constitutional Court
8. Azerbaijan, Constitutional Court
9. Bahrain, Constitutional Court
10. Belarus, Constitutional Court
11. Belgium, Constitutional Court
12. Benin, Constitutional Court
13. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Constitutional Court
14. Brazil, Federal Supreme Court
15. Bulgaria, Constitutional Court
16. Burkina Faso, Constitutional Council
17. Burundi, Constitutional Court
18. Cambodia, Constitutional Council
19. Cameroon, Constitutional Council
20. Canada, Supreme Court
21. Cape Verde, Constitutional Court
22. Central African Republic, Constitutional Court
23. Chad, Supreme Court
24. Chile, Constitutional Court
25. Colombia, Constitutional Court
26. Comoros, Supreme Court
27. Congo (Brazzaville), Constitutional Court
28. Congo, Democratic Republic, Constitutional Court
29. Costa Rica, Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court
30. Côte d'Ivoire, Constitutional Council
31. Croatia, Constitutional Court
32. Cyprus, Supreme Court
33. Czech Republic, Constitutional Court
34. Denmark, Supreme Court
35. Djibouti, Constitutional Council
36. Dominican Republic, Constitutional Court
37. Ecuador, Constitutional Court
38. Egypt, Supreme Constitutional Court
39. Equatorial Guinea, Constitutional Court
40. Estonia, Supreme Court
41. Eswatini, Supreme Court
42. Ethiopia, Council of Constitutional Inquiry
43. Finland, Supreme Administrative Court
44. Finland, Supreme Court
45. France, Constitutional Council
46. Gabon, Constitutional Court
47. Georgia, Constitutional Court
48. Germany, Federal Constitutional Court
49. Ghana, Supreme Court
50. Guinea, Constitutional Court
51. Guinea-Bissau, Supreme Court of Justice
52. Hungary, Constitutional Court
53. Indonesia, Constitutional Court
54. India, Supreme Court
55. Ireland, Supreme Court
56. Israel, Supreme Court
57. Italy, Constitutional Court
58. Jordan, Constitutional Court
59. Kazakhstan, Constitutional Council
60. Kenya, Supreme Court
61. Korea, Republic, Constitutional Court
62. Kosovo, Constitutional Court
63. Kuwait, Constitutional Court
64. Kyrgyzstan, Constitutional Court
65. Latvia, Constitutional Court
66. Lithuania, Constitutional Court
67. Lebanon, Constitutional Council
68. Luxembourg, Constitutional Court
69. Madagascar, High Constitutional Court
70. Malaysia, Federal Court
71. Mali, Constitutional Court
72. Mauritania, Constitutional Council
73. Mauritius, Supreme Court
74. Mexico, Supreme Court
75. Mexico, Electoral Court of the Federal Judiciary
76. Moldova, Constitutional Court
77. Monaco, Supreme Court
78. Mongolia, Constitutional Court
79. Montenegro, Constitutional Court
80. Morocco, Constitutional Court
81. Mozambique, Constitutional Council
82. Namibia, Supreme Court
83. Netherlands, Council of State
84. Netherlands, Supreme Court
85. Nicaragua, Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court
86. Niger, Constitutional Court
87. North Macedonia, Constitutional Court
88. Norway, Supreme Court
89. Pakistan, Supreme Court
90. Palestine*, Supreme Constitutional Court
91. Panama, Supreme Court
92. Peru, Constitutional Court
93. Poland, Constitutional Tribunal
94. Portugal, Constitutional Court
95. Romania, Constitutional Court
96. Russia, Constitutional Court
97. Samoa, Supreme Court
98. São Tomé and Príncipe, Supreme Court / Constitutional Court
99. Senegal, Constitutional Council
100. Serbia, Constitutional Court
101. Seychelles, Supreme Court
102. Slovakia, Constitutional Court
103. Slovenia, Constitutional Court
104. Somalia, Supreme Court
105. South Africa, Constitutional Court
106. Spain, Constitutional Court
107. Sweden, Supreme Administrative Court
108. Sweden, Supreme Court
109. Switzerland, Federal Court
110. Tajikistan, Constitutional Court
111. Tanzania, Court of Appeal
112. Thailand, Constitutional Court
113. Togo, Constitutional Court
114. Türkiye, Constitutional Court
115. Uganda, Supreme Court
116. Ukraine, Constitutional Court
117. Uzbekistan, Constitutional Court
118. Zambia, Supreme Court
119. Zimbabwe, Constitutional Court
*This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of Council of Europe member States on this issue.
History of the World Conference:
Since 1996, the Venice Commission has established co-operation with a number of regional or language based groups of constitutional courts, in particular the Conference of European Constitutional Courts, the Association of Constitutional Courts using the French Language, the Southern African Judges Commission, the Conference of Constitutional Control Organs of Countries of New Democracy, the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions, the Union of Arab Constitutional Courts and Councils, the Ibero-American Conference of Constitutional Justice and the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa.
In pursuit of the goal of uniting these groups and their members, the Venice Commission had organised a Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice for the first time, held in Cape Town, South Africa on 23-24 January 2009 and hosted by the Constitutional Court of South Africa. This event gathered 9 regional or linguistic groups and some 90 courts.
On the basis of a declaration adopted at this occasion, the Venice Commission assisted a Bureau in the establishment of the World Conference as a permanent body. At their first meeting in Mexico, in April 2009, the Bureau prepared a draft statute, which was discussed at other meetings of the Bureau on 12 December 2009 and 5 June 2010 in Venice together with questions of the organisation of a second Congress.
Eighty-eight Constitutional Courts, Constitutional Councils and Supreme Courts as well as the 10 regional and linguistic groups of courts from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe gathered for a second Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice on the topic "Separation of Powers and Independence of Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Bodies". This event was hosted by the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 16-18 January 2011 in co-operation with the Venice Commission.
The draft statute was amended on this occasion and finally adopted at another meeting of the Bureau on 23 May 2011 on the occasion of the XVth Congress of the Conference of European Constitutional Courts.
With the accession of more than 30 Constitutional Courts, Constitutional Councils and Supreme Courts exercising constitutional justice, the Statute of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice entered into force on 24 September 2011.
The 3rd Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice on the topic ‘Constitutional Justice and Social Integration’ was hosted by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea on 28 September – 1 October 2014. The participants of the 3rd Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice adopted the Seoul Communiqué.
The congress examined how constitutional courts have dealt with social integration and – in its absence – with social conflict. The participating judges were able to draw inspiration from the experience of their peers, whether from positive examples or from cases where the courts were unable to solve these issues.
In addition to the 1st General Assembly of the World Conference, a stock-taking exercise took place during the 3rd Congress on the independence of the constitutional courts.
Upon invitation by the Constitutional Court of Lithuania, the 4th Congress of the World Conference on "the Rule of Law and Constitutional Justice in the Modern World" was held in in Vilnius, Republic of Lithuania, on 11-14 September 2017.
The 4th Congress concluded that within the framework of their constitutional competence, Constitutional Courts ensure the respect for and the implementation of national constitutions and exert a strong influence on shaping the content of the principle of the rule of law.
The stocktaking on the independence of Constitutional Courts of the 4th Congress showed that a number of courts had come under pressure from the executive and the legislative powers of their respective countries, but also from the media. The 4th Congress called upon the member Courts of the World Conference to resist pressure and to render their decisions only on the basis of the constitutions of their respective countries and the principles enshrined in them. The World Conference offered its good offices to courts that come under pressure, should they so wish.
The 2nd General Assembly of the World Conference amended the Statute of the World Conference and elected the Constitutional Council of Djibouti and the Constitutional Courts of the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and Italy as members of the Bureau.