about the project (eng)

Leading researcher: Attila Antal
Resarch duration: 2021 – 2024 
Research programme, funder: National Research, Development and Innovation Office of Hungary, Postdoctoral Excellence Programme
Research ID-number: NKFIH-139007
Hosting institution: ELTE Faculty of Law
Research budget: 25, 328 million HUF

The aim of the project is to examine the basic characteristics and contexts of state of emergency, governance based on extraordinary measures in the age of ecological and climate emergency. Due to the global ecological and climate crisis, we have reached an era of state of emergency. The COVID-19 caused devastating health, political, economic and social crises. The research aims to investigate the relationship between the state of emergency and global crises in a pioneering way, the analyses of the coronavirus, as the most comprehensive manifestation of the global crisis, is considered here as a case study. This research explores when and how the extraordinary legal order has been used by the pre-COVID-19 political systems and to provide a comprehensive analysis of what the main paradigm and function of the extraordinary legal order was, covering the constitutional systems of the North Atlantic and Asia. Such a summary of this is still missing from the Hungarian legal and political science literature. Another major goal of the research is to conduct a “stress test” of legal and political systems related to the COVID-19 crisis. I look at how the world’s political and legal systems have responded to the coronavirus crisis, where and when they introduced an extraordinary legal order, what it has resulted in, and what its social and political implications have been. This would be the first Hungarian-language monographic summary on the topic and would be an important added value both for the Hungarian theoretical literature and for political practice. I will examine what the role and fate of the state of emergency will be in the era of global ecological and climate emergency.

The main hypothesis (H) of this research is the following: due to the global ecological and climate crisis we have entered a new era of state of emergency and governance based on extraordinary measures, which will fundamentally change the relationship between law and politics, but the use of emergency regulations and exceptional could make us more resilient facing the global challenges ahead. I think it is important to look at how the coronavirus affects state of exception and exceptional governance, because it can help us prepare for the enormous changes. In addition to the mentioned main hypothesis (H), this research also deals with other sub-hypotheses: (h1) several forms of exceptional legal orders were applied before the ecological and climate emergency, but the current application scheme of extraordinary tools has been changing significantly in our era; (h2) political systems have responded to the complex challenge posed by the coronavirus crisis with the aforementioned "classical" logic of the extraordinary legal order, which has often led to social discontent and extreme tensions, but relying on the experience gained during COVID-19 a new mechanisms of exceptional measure can be evolves; (h3) t in the coming decades the ecological and climate emergency will put pressure on our social, economic and health systems in ways and to an extent never seen before, and a new paradigm of state of exception may play a crucial role tackling this growing crisis.

The importance of this research is given by the fact that it simultaneously addresses three important issues: the regulation and use of the extraordinary legal order before the era of the ecological and climate crisis; examining the impact of COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis in terms of emergency regulation and governance in the aggravating ecological and climate crisis. In the Hungarian literature, the legal study of the extraordinary order has become established, so the interdisciplinary nature of research in terms of legal and political science in the framework of climate and ecological crisis, would be an important added value. On the other hand, theoretical and practical aspects are intertwined in the research, moreover it produces direct social utility and can contribute to the social debate on ecological and climate emergency. A systematic study of emergency regulation and governance (including Europe, the Americas, and Asia) in terms of legal and political science would be an important achievement in conjunction with the domestic and foreign literature. The research would certainly be pioneering in domestic and foreign terms, because it would be among the first to analyse the relationship between the COVID-19 crisis and the classical and new institutional system of the extraordinary legal system, as well as the experience of using extraordinary government instruments. Several case studies would be prepared, and an extraordinary legal order database would be published to contribute to further research. The real novelty is that it would outline a complex picture based on empirical case studies and data regarding the challenges of the applicability of extraordinary regulation and governance in the age of ecological and climate crisis. The research would be widely connected to the domestic and international scientific discourse and its uniqueness would be given by the fact that the COVID-19 complex crisis is examined in parallel with the development of social, economic and political processes in the light of the climate and ecological crisis. Moreover, it would make proposals that can trigger resilience in legal and political systems in the light of the ecological and climate crisis.

Whether humanity survives the unfolding ecological and climate of our time depends largely on how we transform our legal and political systems. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a public health, economic and social crisis. At the same time, the epidemic, which in many ways can be traced back to the global ecological and climate crisis, also offers an opportunity to test sharply what extraordinary steps need to be taken to survive. The state of emergency and extraordinary governance (i.e., deviation from the normal functioning of the legal and political system) has so far been a common tool for dealing with emergencies, for instance environmental and economic disasters. On the one hand, the research analyses the techniques and traditions how extraordinary regulation and governance have been applied so far. During COVID-19, governments also began to use these classical tools, but the pandemic is an unprecedented challenge that requires the use of extraordinary tools in a new way and the introduction of a new generation of these tools. Ultimately, the research addresses, based on the experience of the pandemic, what extraordinary legal and governance tools can ensure human survival in the age of the ecological and climate emergency.