The State of Transitions

Trento 18-19 October 2024

The challenges of our times, from climate change to the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), from the continuation of armed conflicts to migration and the definition of new borders, have far-reaching effects on public law thinking, on the resilience of its underlying categories, and on the definition of the very boundaries of the discipline. At the same time, it is increasingly evident that these transitions – social, migratory, environmental, digital – are closely intertwined and cannot be addressed and managed in isolation. These are phenomena that, in order to be better understood and studied, require an integrated, comparative and interdisciplinary legal approach, putting law in dialogue with the other social sciences and with the hard sciences, reflecting on its own role, carrying out analyses and critical reviews of institutions and paradigms, and proposing innovative, conscious and effective regulatory choices.

The need to hold the so-called twin transitions (green and digital) together is a complex challenge. Technological developments are considered to be a decisive factor for achieving the green transition and achieving climate neutrality in the five sectors responsible for greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, i.e. agriculture, energy, transport and mobility, industry, and construction; furthermore, much is expected from AI in the field of, for example, scientific research and medicine, with immediate implications not only on the protection of fundamental rights and human dignity, but also on the ethical and philosophical level. At the same time, both the energy problems associated with new technologies, starting with generative AI and blockchain technology, and the transformative impact that technology can have on society, in terms of misinformation, alteration of democratic processes and the shaping of public opinion, and the increase of inequalities, are well known. In turn, the climate crisis has particularly severe consequences on living conditions in less developed countries. It unacceptably aggravates economic inequalities on a planetary scale, since the least polluting and poorest countries suffer disproportionately from the damage caused by climate change without gaining (or having gained) any advantage in terms of economic growth.

Deforestation, reduction of global water resources, and extreme weather events have been causing environmental refugees already since the past century, significantly increasing migration flows towards Europe and the United States.

In this scenario, what transformations is the State undergoing, in its various articulations, including its jurisdictions (civil, criminal, administrative)? Are national, global and supranational bodies able to react with the same speed to the major challenges imposed by migration processes, artificial intelligence and the climate change crisis? Do these challenges favour the re-emergence of old nationalisms or do they pave the way for new global and supranational solutions? What are the main regulatory responses? Have the public strategies and policies developed so far been timely and successful? Can new ones be imagined?

These questions raise others, for instance in relation to the institutional dimension and the identification of the actors and powers involved in the State of Transitions. Who are the main actors in the field? Are national parliaments, governments and courts still at the centre of decision making on these issues? What is the role of the public sector and what is that of the private sector? And what is that of the third sector?

Further questions arise with regard to the relationship between the different transitions, their effects on the State and the context in which they take place: how do technological developments and the ecological challenge fit together? Are the social costs of AI in terms of inequality adequately considered? How closely are the climate and migration crises linked? What is the impact of these transitions in different legal systems and how can they improve (or worsen) the overall health of the contemporary State?

These are just some of the questions on which the fifth conference of the Italian chapter (ICON•S Italy) of the International Society of Public Law (ICON•S), which will take place at the University of Trento on 18 and 19 October 2024, invites to reflect.

Submission of proposals

Abstracts (in Italian or English) of individual papers (maximum 500 words) or fully formed panels (maximum 1000 words) must be submitted by 15 June 2024 via the submission form at Panels must comprise no less than 3 and no more than 5 participants, including the chair or panel moderator, and must respect gender balance. Individual presentations and panels may be held in Italian or English. The submission of the final version of the papers is not required.

In order to allow the widest participation, from this year there is a limit to the number of panels to which each participant can participate: each participant may take part in a maximum of two panels as speaker (either as single author or as co-author) and may participate in no more than two additional panels as chair.

Selection: The outcome of the selection process will be communicated to participants by 15 July 2024. For those who wish, the final versions of the contributions may be published, subject to the respective evaluation process, in Diritto pubblico, Quaderni costituzionali, Rivista trimestrale di diritto pubblico, Istituzioni del Federalismo, Forum dei Quaderni costituzionali, the IRPA Working PapersSeries and the Italian Journal of Public Law.

For information:

To download the full text of the Call for Panels and Papers click here.