10 Jan

The End of the End of History

Organized by:INFAR and GLSJ

At the end of the 1980s, Francis Fukuyama famously pronounced “the end of history.” It was an exaggeration even then, but it has become a cautionary tale now. As he wrote, one state after another in Eastern Europe was throwing off its Soviet past and hurtling toward a liberal constitutional-democratic future. As one newly liberated people after another became able to chart their own futures, they seemed to converge on a common model of governance: Liberal. Democratic. Constitutional.    

Whatever one’s view about the validity of Fukuyama’s assessment, it is evident that we are no longer in that moment. Each year between 2006 and 2016, more countries have declined than improved on various Freedom House measures of democratic performance. While the validity of these indicators has been contested, even critics can see that democracy is in crisis. At a minimum, there has been a growth in the number of countries that are hard to classify one way or another as democracies or autocracies.

How can it be the case that a transnational legal order around constitution-writing has come into being while the number of states that are in fact guided by this international normative consensus shrinks?   In this lecture, I will suggest that the way that constitutional norms are being skirted in backsliding states indirectly reinforces the transnational legal order.

The speaker:

Professor Scheppele is Lawrence S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School and the Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She is a visiting professor in the framework of the INFAR project. Her academic and advisory work has covered an extensive range of rule of law and justice related questions.

The organizers:

Integrating Normative and Functional Approaches to Rule of Law and Human Rights (INFAR, http://esl.eur.nl/INFAR) is a collaborative research project between Erasmus School of Law (ESL), the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), and the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC), all of whom are part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The INFAR project is dedicated to pursuing high quality research on the rule of law and human rights in an interdisciplinary framework and fostering collaboration between researchers at Erasmus University and beyond.

Governance, Law and Social Justice (GLSJ, formerly GGSJ, http://www.iss.nl/GLSJ) is a research group that forms part of the ISS Research Programme on Global Development and Social Justice. Our research currently prioritizes: the right to development, legal mobilization and children’s rights. As anticipated outcomes, we focus on reducing inequality and building inclusive and secure societies, including through citizen-led collective action.


ISS, Kortenaerkade 12 (Aula A), 2518AX, The Hague, Netherlands