No constitutional democracy is complete without a constitution and no constitution is complete without an expert in comparative constitutional law. That’s where Sujit Choudhry comes in.
Sujit Choudhry, an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law, is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, an organization which assembles leading global experts to produce evidence-based policy options for decision-makers and agenda-setting. But this position does not come without a variety of law degrees, a multicultural upbringing, and years of experience of serving as a constitutional advisor for emerging democracies. After years of traveling around the world to forge constitutions in ethnically divided societies, Choudhry was drawn to the idea of building a global knowledge network to help these new constitutional democracies. He found there was a severe lack of up-to-date sufficient research when it came to implementing these constitutions, which hindered his constitutional advice. Out of this gap, sprouted the Center for Constitutional Transitions.
As an immigrant with degrees from three different countries, Choudhry’s global background inspired him to approach public policy from a more objective and worldly stance. This global viewpoint is important in today’s times now more than ever. Comparative experience, Choudhry claims, is vital to the current climate so that all constitutional democracies may learn from the successes and failures of other countries.
As someone who was worked with people of all different cultures, Choudhry has learned to take on a more empathetic approach to constitution building. The first step to assisting other constitutional democracies should be to first understand their point-of-view. The second step should be to not fear change, but to welcome new ideas. In the future, Choudhry would love to see a new organization which organizes and hosts the most important constitutional case-law from around the world, which would change the history of constitutionalism. But for now, Choudhry is proud to foster a community of experts to create global knowledge networks. And in the meantime, Choudhry is preparing to launch three global collaborative research projects with the with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in the fall.
Born in India and raised in Canada, Choudhry’s multicultural upbringing shaped his global perspective and future career. Additionally, his well-educated parents fostered a home based on intellectual stimulation. With a father who taught economics at the University of Toronto and a mother who taught nursing, Choudhry was inspired to pursue an academic path from an early age. Choudhry now holds law degrees from Toronto, Harvard, and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar
Now Choudhry is the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley – School of Law, where he served as Dean. Previously, he was the Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University, and the Scholl Chair at the University of Toronto. Since his intellectually-stimulating childhood, Choudhry has gone on to speak in over two dozen countries and publish over ninety articles, book chapters, working papers and reports. His books include The Migration of Constitutional Ideas (Cambridge, 2006), Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation? (Oxford, 2008), The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (Oxford, 2016) and Constitution Making (Edward Elgar, 2016).
His wide-ranging research agenda is combined with in-depth field experience as an advisor to constitution building processes. Professor Choudhry’s research addresses a broad range of issues in comparative constitutional law and politics, from using constitutional design as a tool to manage the transition from violent conflict to peaceful democratic politics to basic methodological questions in the study of comparative constitutional law.