Deliberative Constitutional Referendums in a Deeply Divided Society: Theoretical and Institutional Design Lessons from New Caledonia


Chancellor Day Hall NCDH 609, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

The Faculty of Law is pleased to welcome Professor Hoi Kong, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia.


In 2018, New Caledonia held an independence referendum. This was the most recent in a series of constitutional referendums that over six decades have aimed to address the relationship between New Caledonia and France, and between the Kanak and non-Kanak communities in New Caledonia. This presentation will analyze theoretical and institutional design issues that New Caledonia’s experiences with constitutional referendums have given rise to. It will assess whether those referendums and the 2018 referendum, in particular, conformed with democratic norms of public reasoning. The presentation will conclude by identifying general implications of the analysis for the holding of constitutional referendums in deeply divided societies.

About the speaker

Hoi Kong is the inaugural holder of The Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, P.C., UBC Professorship in Constitutional Law, which he assumed in 2018. He researches and teaches in the areas of constitutional, administrative, municipal and comparative law, and constitutional and public law theory. Prior to joining the Allard School of Law, he was an Assistant and then Associate Professor at McGill University’s Faculty of Law, where he served a term as Associate Dean (Academic). He was previously an Assistant Professor of Law, cross-appointed with the School of Urban Planning at Queen’s University, and an Associate-in-Law at the Columbia Law School. Professor Kong clerked for Justice L’Heureux-Dubé and Justice Deschamps at the Supreme Court of Canada.

With Professor Ron Levy, he co-directs the Project on Deliberative Governance and Law. For the 2020-2021 academic year, he will be a Wall Scholar at the University of British Columbia’s Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies

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