Valmynd Leit


The Icelandic Constitutional Reform

University of Akureyri 23-24 September 2016

Convenors: Ágúst Þór Árnason (University of Akureyri)
& Catherine Dupré (University of Exeter)


Friday 23rd September (English speaking)

10.00 – 11.00


Opening Addresses

  • Welcome Address: Eyjólfur Guðmundsson (Rector of the University of Akureyri)
  • Keynote Address: Guðni Th. Jóhannesson (President of Iceland):
  • Keynote Address: Páll Þórhallsson (Chairman of the Constitutional Committee)
  • Chair: Arnar Þór Jónsson (University of Reykjavik)

11.00 – 11.30


Coffee & tea break

11.30 – 13.00


The Icelandic Constitutional Reform Process and Output

  • Bruno Kaufmann (Initiative and Referendum Institute): Constitutional Reform and Modern Direct Democracy (video-linked)
  • Þorvaldur Gylfason (University of Iceland, member of Constitutional Council 2011): The New Constitution is Not an Exclusively Icelandic Concern
  • Helene Landemore (University of Yale): Inclusive Constitution-Making and Religious Rights, Lessons from the Icelandic Experiment (video-linked)
  • Chair: Birgir Guðmundsson (University of Akureyri)

13.00 – 14.00


Lunch break 

14.00 – 15.30


On People and Constitutions

  • Garrett Barden (Emeritus, formerly University College Cork): We the People
  • Catherine Dupré (University of Exeter): What Makes a Good Constitution
  • Birgir Ármannsson (Constitutional committee): Reflections on Constitutional Review
  • Chair: Lawrence Lessig (Harvard Law School) 

15.30 – 16.00


Coffee & tea break

16.00 – 17.00


What next?

  • Introductory speech by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Prime minister 
  • Followed by a panel discussion with members of the Constitutional Committee: Aðalheiður Ámundadóttir, Birgir Ármannsson, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Valgerður Bjarnadóttir
  • Chair: Ágúst Thór Árnason (University of Akureyri, member of the Constitutional Law Committee 2010-2011)


Saturday 24th September (English and Icelandic)

9.00 – 10.00


West-Nordic Perspectives on the Icelandic Reform (English)

  • Bárdur Larsen (Frodskaparsetrid/University of Faroe Islands, by skype): A Case of Sub-State Identity Constitutionalism
  • Mininnguaq Kleist (Self-Government, Greenland): Beginning of Constitutional Work in Greenland
  • Chair: Ágúst Þór Árnason (University of Akureyri, member of the Constitutional Law Committee 2010-2011)

10.00 – 10.15


Coffee & tea break

10.15 – 11.15


Protecting the Environment and Natural Resources (in English)

  • Hans Petter Graver (University of Oslo): Environment and Ecology as a Grand Challenge for Constitutional Law
  • Dina Townsend (University of Oslo): Locating the Environment in the Constitution
  • Chair: Páll Þórhallsson (Chairman of the Constitutional Committee)

11.15 – 11.25



11.25 – 12.30


Protecting the Environment and Natural Resources in the Icelandic Constitution? (in Icelandic)

  • Aðalheiður Jóhannsdóttir (University of Iceland)
  • Ragnheiður Elfa Þorsteinsdóttir (University of Akureyri)
  • Chair: Lára Magnúsardóttir (Director, University of Iceland's Research Centre in North West Iceland)

12.30 – 13.30



13.30 – 14.30


National Ownership

  • Skúli Magnússon (University of Iceland and member of the Constitutional Law Committe 2010-2011 and Constitutional Comittee 2013-2014)
  • Einar Hugi Bjarnasson (Constitutional Committee)
  • Chair: Kristrún Heimisdóttir (Columbia University)

14.30 – 14.35


Change of speakers

14.35 – 15.35


Discussing Referenda and Initiatives (in Icelandic)

  • Ólafur Harðarson (University of Iceland): Referenda: Pro and Contra
  • Aðalheiður Ámundadóttir (Constitutional Committee) 
  • Chair: Salvör Nordal (Chairperson of the Constitutional Council)

15.35- 15.50


Closing reflections and final words

  • Skúli Magnússon (University of Iceland and member of the Constitutional Law Committe 2010-2011 and Constitutional Comittee 2013-2014)
  • Ágúst Thór Árnason (University of Akureyri, member of the Constitutional Law Committee 2010-2011)



Reception: all warmly invited


The conference is open to all and free of charge

This interdisciplinary conference aims to take forward the public discussion on the ongoing process of constitutional reform in Iceland. Initiated in 2010 in the aftermath of the collapse of Iceland’s banking sector and the ‘pots and pans revolution’, the reform process culminated with a Constitutional Proposal, produced by the Constitutional Council. Presented to the Icelandic Parliament (Althingi) in August 2011, the Constitutional Proposal was widely approved as a basis for further work by the advisory referendum held in November 2012.

Appointed by the new Prime Minister in 2013, the cross-party committee (the Constitutional Committee) in charge of the constitutional reform agenda delivered its proposal for a draft constitutional bill this summer. The proposal consists in three additions to the current constitutional text: 1) a new paragraph on the protection and ownership of Iceland’s natural resources; 2) a new paragraph on the constitutional status of the environment and nature; and 3) a new paragraph creating the possibility for 15% of the Icelandic electorate to initiate a nation-wide referendum on laws and resolutions adopted by the Icelandic Parliament.

Held over two days, the first day in English with a range of international speakers and the second day mostly in Icelandic with a cross-section of Icelandic experts and personalities, this conference aims to inform the public and political discussion ahead of the general elections of 29 October 2016 by positioning the current Icelandic reform initiatives in its wider legal and political context. The conference is sponsored by the Prime Minister´s Office and the Constitutional Committee and hosted by the University of Akureyri (UNAK).

Schools & Faculties

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University of Akureyri

Nordurslod 2         600 Akureyri, Iceland         Tel. +354 460 8000 

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