Legal Perspectives on Contingencies and Resilience in an Environment of Constitutionalism - An Overview

International Journal of Human Rights (2014) 18:2, 119-126

Posted: 2 Apr 2014

See all articles by Clive Walker

Clive Walker

University of Leeds - Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS)

Date Written: April 1, 2014


The legal treatment of contingencies and resilience remains an issue of prime importance to many sectors of the late modern state, with implications not only for law, but also for governance arrangements and economic allocation. In the United Kingdom, the passage of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 was meant to provide a comprehensive legal statement on the subject, but it has turned out to be important but far from definitive. As a result, the risk society in which we live continues to seek ever more complex and detailed risk mitigation responses by law. Policy areas which have been especially prominent since 2004 in the UK have been terrorism and flood management, but the reflection on legal policy has spread more widely and even to the arcane prerogative powers which provide a backstop for any government facing a crisis. The same approaches to the legal treatment of contingencies and resilience are being played out in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the United States, and also within wider polities such as the European Union.

This collection of essays seeks to analyse and criticise the developments in contingencies and resilience over the past decade. Our reflection is not only on the flagship Civil Contingencies Act 2004 within the UK but also on comparative jurisdictions, so that the collection has a strongly international flavour. It also has a cross-disciplinary flavour. Anyone working in the fields of contingencies and resilience must engage with political theory and policy, including relations between public and private, national and local, and civil and military. In addition, economic implications are also vital.

There may be two transcending themes of interest. One is institutional or structural – what bodies and power relations should we establish in a late modern world where it is reckoned that around 80% of Critical National Infrastructure is held in private hands? The second is more dynamic and concerns the grant of powers and arrangements for live responses. Both aspects will be subjected to a strong critical stance based in 'constitutionalism' which is conceived as the collection of values which foster state legitimacy even in extreme situations, principally comprising: transparency and legality; effectiveness and accountability; and enhanced respect for individual rights.

This Special Issue of the International Journal of Human Rights contains the following papers: Catherine Appleton, Lone Wolf Terrorism in Norway; Michael Eburn, Managing ‘Civil Contingencies’ in Australia: John Lindsay, The Power to React: Review and Discussion of Canada’s Emergency Measures Legislation; Rebecca Moosavian, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’: Informing the Public Under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004; Andrew Blick, Emergency Powers and the Withering of the Royal Prerogative; Clive Walker, The governance of Emergency Arrangements; John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, Terrorism and Counterterrorism in the US: The Question of Responsible Policy-making; Amos N. Guiora, Homeland Security: Definitions and Accountability.

Keywords: emergency powers; civil contingencies; risk management; governance; accountability; terrorism

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K33, K19, K30, K33, K42, N40

Suggested Citation

Walker, Clive, Legal Perspectives on Contingencies and Resilience in an Environment of Constitutionalism - An Overview (April 1, 2014). International Journal of Human Rights (2014) 18:2, 119-126, Available at SSRN:

Clive Walker (Contact Author)

University of Leeds - Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS) ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom
44 (0) 113 3435022 (Phone)
44 (0) 113 3435056 (Fax)


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