Research Montaigne Centre

The Montaigne Centre’s focal points for research are the rule of law and administration of justice.

Four major shifts and developments have caused the classic 19th-century concepts of the rule of law (also ‘Rechtsstaat’ or ‘constitutional State’) to be placed in a new reality:

  1. large-scale technological developments; 
  2. level shifts when it comes to the question of where decision-making and exercise of authority and justice take place;
  3. a changing role of private actors and
  4. shifts in thinking and differences of opinion about the appreciation of central values of the rule of law. 

These four shifts and their consequences for the rule of law and administration of justice form the leitmotiv for the Montaigne Centre’s research. The central question is which (traditional and new) core values, principles and bearers of the rule of law in the newly formed reality must be central in keeping the constitutional State resilient and flexible, and how they can best be guaranteed and promoted, in particular also in relation to the administration of justice. 

In view of this central question and the objectives of the programme, the Montaigne Centre’s research has two main pillars, each encompassing two dimensions:

Organogram over het onderzoek van het Montaigne Centre

Pillar 1. Fundamental values and innovation of the constitutional State 

1.a. Fundamental values and bearers of a resilient constitutional State 
This dimension aims to identify new core values and bearers of the constitutional State, in light of the shifts and the developments as described above. What set of conceptual instruments is needed to define the rule of law and the constitutional State in the current dynamic context? Who does what in the constitutional State? Which bearers and watchdogs of the rule of law are relevant or even crucial? What is their interrelationship?

1.b. Dynamics in and innovation of the constitutional State
The research carried out within this dimension investigates which threats for the rule of law exist, what their determinants are, what responses they have triggered and what innovative solutions are possible to safeguard the underlying values of the constitutional State in the new reality.

Pilar 2. Administration of justice in the constitutional State

2.a. The role of courts in the constitutional State 
This dimension reflects on the role of the judiciary in the constitutional State in the current dynamic context. What are the institutional core values of the administration of justice and what is the function of administration of justice and the judiciary in the constitutional State? What role do courts play in the relationship to the administration and the legislature? And how do different judges at the national, international and European level relate to one another?
2.b. Dynamics in and innovation of the administration of justice
Central to the research conducted within this dimension is the question how in the current dynamic context, and while maintaining the essential principles and guarantees, a State governed by the rule of law can provide for an infrastructure that provides independent and impartial protection against (arbitrary) exercise of power by the government and by private actors. Relevant research themes within this dimension are the legal system as infrastructure; access to the law; legitimacy, effectiveness, trust and procedural justice; procedural principles; evidence and expertise; judicial law-making, development of the law and legal unity and fading lines between administrative activity and administration of justice. 


Our researchers conduct research with a multidimensional perspective. When studying concepts and developments and finding solutions to problems, they make use of insights from other disciplines (such as political theory, sociology, political sciences, anthropology, ethics, international relations, public administration, economics, conflict studies) and insights gained through internal and external comparative law. In a number of cases, empirical research is conducted, or subjects are studied primarily from an economical or socio-psychological perspective.