Universiteit Antwerpen

Antwerp-Glasgow Colloquium, 'Subsidiarity and Its Discontents', June 16-17, 2011

Subsidiarity and Its Discontents

Fourth Antwerp-Glasgow Doctoral Colloquium

Dates: June 16-17 2011

Venue: Annexe, Rodestraat 14, 2000 Antwerpen


Subsidiarity is a widely applicable concept. It has been referred to in various
ways for several fields of law and it assumes different functions in each area of
law. For example, the principle is increasingly referred to by current human
rights scholarship, as a tool to address some of the current problems prevailing
in this field. And whereas most scholars agree that the principle should apply in
human rights law, there is still much difference as to the exact scope and field of
application of this principle. Interestingly, it is invoked both by the sceptics, as
well as by the reformists of the human rights system.
The majority of writings on the topic of subsidiarity take a functional approach,
which focuses on the procedural and institutional implications of the principle.
Functional approaches stress that the focus should be on the private level, as
opposed to the governmental, or debate which entity can exercise its respective
powers most effectively. Sometimes, functionalists may also invoke the
principle’s character and nature as an ordering principle for civil societies. On
the other hand, often enough the prerequisites of subsidiarity are also normative
in nature. A normative approach may argue that that either form of the principle
may foster the general order, democratic participation or social cohesion as well
as contribute and convey certain key values to the international society, such as
democracy or the effective realization of human rights. This positive and
legitimizing role of subsidiarity has implications on the understanding of
authority in law, or is the causality inverted?

The Colloquium aims to examine the various forms subsidiarity in different
fields of national and international law, including European law, human rights
law, and constitutional law. We also welcome critical and theoretical analysis of
the concepts underlying the principle. The Colloquium will assess whether
subsidiarity is really able to provide an adequate answer to the current
challenges the European polity faces.


To see the program click here.