Institute of Political Science

Prof. Dr. Armingeon, Klaus

Constitutionalism and Multilayered Governance

Together with Anne Peters (Basel) within the framework programme of the NCCR-Project “International Trade Regulation: From Fragmentation to Coherence", managed by Thomas Cottier (Bern), and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Project Leader

Klaus Armingeon

Research Collaborator

Karolina Milewicz


2005 - 2009


The focus of this NCCR, "International Trade Regulation: From Fragmentation To Coherence", stems mainly from the observation that under the GATT, and still today under the WTO, international trade regulation has been undertaken as a specialised field of international law and economic policy.

The individual project 1 (IP1) on constitutionalism and multilayered governance is part of the first NCCR research cluster dedicated to constitutional topics of trade regulation. As the most general project of the NCCR it transcends the bounds of the WTO/GATT, and will also investigate constitutionalism within other regulatory regimes. The central premise of IP1 is that a continuous process of "constitutionalisation" is taking place internationally. While the ability of individual governments to regulate transboundary problems on their own tends to be weakened by globalisation, international institutions and mutual commitments have proliferated. There is a need for insight and recommendations on how the decline of unilateral regulatory authority is to be compensated for. The emergence of multilayered governance and the convergence towards a quasi-constitutional order suggest themselves as platforms of enquiry.

IP1 will address three questions:

What does constitutionalisation entail for states, their citizens and international governance?
How, if at all, could it be steered to promote the delivery of global public goods and the sound management of transboundary problems?
How does the WTO position itself in this context?

The answers to these questions are expected to be both descriptive and prescriptive, combining scholarship from international law and political science to provide a holistic account.

The approach of IP1 will be to formulate a model of transnational constitutionalism with highly explanatory power. To this effect it will: evaluate developments currently associated with transnational constitutionalism by distinguishing between "constitutionalist" and "anti-constitutionalist" trends; assess the policy benefits as well as the negative effects of constitutionalisation; and apply and test the model against the concrete findings of the other NCCR projects being undertaken.

In this context we analyse regulations in the field of social policy and economic competition (ILO and WTO regulations) in a comparative perspective. Using these two fields, we asked

whether all policy fields are amendable to global constitutionalization to a similar extent
whether there are international differences in the importance of international and supranational set of rules with regard to citizens
whether there are alternatives to global constitutionalization
and how a global constitutional order may meet the criteria of democratic government.

See also