HKUEMS :: Event Details

'The People’s Book': Constitutional Change from Referendum and Example of Abortion Rights in Ireland
posted by Faculty of Law for HKU and Public
Event Type: Public Lecture/Forum/Seminar/Workshop/Conference/Symposium
Event Nature: Law and Politics

Event Details

The University of Hong Kong
Faculty of Law

‘The People’s Book’: Constitutional Change from Referendum and the Example of Abortion Rights in Ireland

Professor Fiona de Londras, Birmingham Law School

8 December 2017 (Friday), 12:00-1:00 pm, Room 723, Cheng Yu Tung Tower, The University of Hong Kong

About the Event :
The Irish Constitution is often termed—at least in politics—“the People’s book”. Having been introduced in 1937, it contains no entrenched provisions and can be formally amended only by referendum. This simultaneously reinforces myths of popular sovereignty, and leaves constitutional change somewhat to the vagaries of political whim. Taking as its focus the constitutionalisation of abortion restrictions in 1983, and the contemporary campaigns to reverse that, this lecture will critically engage with referendum as a means of constitutional change. In particular, it will reflect on the impact referendum-centric approaches to constitutional change have had on marginalised groups and their rights, and the abdication of political responsibility for societal leadership on questions of rights, in Ireland. Although its focus is on Ireland, the lecture will draw out more broadly the implications of referendum-based change for social movements resisting embedded patterns of structural inequality.

Biography of speaker :
Professor de Londras is the inaugural Chair in Global Legal Studies as well as Deputy Head of School at Birmingham Law School. Her research concerns constitutionalism, human rights and transnationalism. She is particularly interested in the role and function of rights in contentious policy fields, enquiring about whether—and if so how—rights shape the making of law and policy in complex contexts of, for example, counter-terrorism, the of the European Court of Human Rights, and abortion law in Ireland. She is the joint Editor-in-Chief of the Irish Yearbook of International Law, and formerly edited Legal Studies. She holds adjunct or visiting positions in Ireland (UCD), Australia (UNSW), and Canada (the Munk School of Global Affairs, Toronto). She is a regular media commentator on all aspects of legal, political, and constitutional affairs, and tweets about law at @fdelond. In 2017 she was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in law. Her next book, Repealing the 8th: Reforming Irish Abortion Law (with Enright) will be published by Policy Press in February 2018. From 3rd to 8th December 2017, she will be visiting the University of Hong Kong as Cheng Chan Lan Yue Distinguished Visiting Fellow.

For inquiries, please email Coria Cheng at

Date/Time08/12/2017 12:00-13:00
VenueRoom 7.23, 7th Floor, Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong

Registration Instruction

Registration is open from 30/11/2017 15:30(HKT) to 08/12/2017 11:00(HKT) on a first-come-first-served basis. The registration quota for this event is 45.

* Registration is now closed.

Contact Information

Should you have any enquiries, please feel free to contact Coria Cheng by email at