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Event Series Event Series: CPG Constitutional Law Series

Fostering Constitutional Resilience: The Concept of Defensive Democracy in the German Basic Law

August 1 from 15:00 - 16:30 BMT

CPG Constitutional Law Series

on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the German Basic Law

August 1, 2024, 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (GMT+7), online via Zoom video teleconferencing

organized in collaboration with the Asian Governance Foundation


75 years ago, on May 23, 1949, the German constitution, widely known as the Basic Law, entered into force, following its passage in the Parliamentary Council on May 8 and subsequent approval by the occupying Western Allies of World War II. Since then, the Basic Law has developed into a mainstay of democratic governance, rule of law, and human rights protection in Germany, while inspiring the development and creation of constitutions in many countries around the world. To celebrate the Basic Law’s 75th anniversary and its enduring impact on democracy, freedom, and the rule of law in the heart of Europe and beyond, CPG is hosting a series of online events as part of the “CPG Constitutional Law Series” to explore and discuss some of the many facets of the Basic Law.  

Following online talks by Professor Dr. Dr. Rainer Hofmann, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, on “The First Line of Rights Defense in Germany: The Concept of Human Dignity in the Basic Law” (14 June), Prof. Dr. Oliver Lepsius, Münster University, on “The Guardian of the Constitution as a Political Actor? Reflections on Role, Function, and Power of the German Constitutional Court” (4 July) and Professor Dr. Niels Petersen, Münster University, on “Proportionality in German Fundamental Rights Adjudication” (to be held on July 18), the fourth presentation, titled “Fostering Constitutional Resilience: The Concept of Defensive Democracy in the Basic Law”, will be delivered by Professor Dr. Thomas Schmitz from Maqsut Narikbayev University, Astana, on 1 August. 

Democracy is in decline worldwide, with anti-democratic populist movements and parties rising in many countries and attempting to destroy democracy and the rule of law from within. These movements and parties often transform democracies into authoritarian systems once they win elections, a process that can be alarmingly swift. Germany experienced this with the rise of the totalitarian National Socialist regime in 1933. 


To proactively protect democracy, the German Basic Law of 1949 incorporates the concept of defensive (or “militant”) democracy. This includes a range of measures such as the prohibition of political parties and associations, the forfeiture of certain fundamental rights, the duty of civil servants to remain loyal to the Constitution, the defense of the constitution by specialized domestic intelligence services, and even a fundamental right to resist efforts to abolish the free and democratic order. These measures are sensitive, as their misuse can threaten democracy itself. However, if not used effectively, democracy may still perish. 

This talk will present these precautions and instruments, their application, and safeguards against abuse. It will also explore the limits of a national approach to preserving democracy and the need to complement it with robust international mechanisms, in particular at the European level. 


Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmitz is a DAAD Lecturer at the Maqsut Narikbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Göttingen, Germany. His research areas cover European Law, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Comparative Public Law, and legal terminology, and multilingual communication in European and Public law.


Dr. Duc Quang Ly, Project Manager, CPG



Event registration is essential for participation; individuals interested are encouraged to do so by visiting the link or QR code provided below. For more information, please email us at events@cpg-online.de

⇒ Registration ⇐

Contact Information

Contact Dr. Duc Quang Ly at duc.quang.ly@cpg-online.de for program content.

Contact Ms. Venus Phuangkom at events@cpg-online.de for administrative matters.


August 1
15:00 - 16:30 BMT
Event Category:




Event Type
Panel Discussion / Roundtable