Executive power and international issues discussed at Constitution Week Conference

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Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood delivers keynote address at Constitution Week Conference, Sept. 16, 2015.

Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood delivers keynote address during UVU’s Constitution Week Conference, Sept. 16, 2015.


Jared Stirland | Assistant Lifestyle Editor | [email protected]
Photo credit: Gabi Campbell | Photo Editor | @gabicampbellphotos


The Center for Constitutional Studies hosted the Constitution Week Conference on the executive power at UVU Sept. 16-17.

An expert on international law, Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood gave the opening address at the conference.

Jokes, anecdotal stories and case studies were threaded throughout the keynote address. Greenwood noted that he was a little nervous about his speech, because Americans have not been fond of English people telling them how to run their affairs.

Instead of focusing solely on how international law applies to United States presidents, Greenwood lectured on the applications of international law to any country’s head of state.

There is no difference, according to international law, between the president of the United States or the president of China.

“The difference comes between domestic and international law,” said Greenwood, referencing the Magna Carta and the United States constitution as examples of domestic laws.

All heads of state are given certain privileges and rights when traveling to different countries. “A head of state is entitled to protection and their dignity.”

At one point, protection of dignity meant that even the press of the host country could not criticize the head of state. International law has progressed since then—a time when a person could not sue a head of state, but was required to sue the state itself.

“The old confusion between the state and the head of the state is a thing of the past,” said Greenwood.

The present problem that faces heads of state is the lack of written text defining specific policies. It is an unwritten law, which can be manipulated by lawyers and politicians.

“Those who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity create tension in international law and will continue to be a problem for quite some time,” said Greenwood.

Established in 2011, the Center for Constitutional Studies claims to be nonpartisan, and will hold another conference in mid-October focusing on comparative constitutional studies.

“This is the brainchild of the founder, Rick Griffith… We don’t want to be an echo chamber where intellectuals emphasize their own views and opinions,” said A. S. Bibby, interim director, while introducing Greenwood.