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SWPS University - Main page

The Role of Judicial Powers in Transitional Legitimization in CEE

The Role of Judicial Powers in Transitional Legitimization in CEE


International Conference


The Role of Judicial Powers

in Transitional Legitimization in the CEE.
New political communities and complicated past







Organizers: SWPS University, the European Solidarity Center, Konrad Adenauer Foundation Poland

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Martial Law in Poland (1981-1983), SWPS University and the European Solidarity Centre (ECS) would like to invite all interested parties to an international conference on “The Role of Judicial Powers in Transitional Legitimization in the CEE. New Political Communities and a Complicated Past”. The event will provide a platform for critical reflections on the last thirty years of the post-communist transformation, not only in Poland, but also in the whole region. The conference is part of a research project financed by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The Polish branch of the Foundation is also one of the partners of the conference.

Coordinators of the project include Professor Adam Bodnar, Dean of the Faculty of Law in Warsaw, who also represents SWPS University’s Institute of Law, and Filip Cyuńczyk, Ph.D., Associate Professor of SWPS University, and Jakub Kufel, Ph.D., who coordinates the event on behalf of the European Solidarity Centre.

The conference is open to general audience on the first day of the conference (Tuesday, December 14th). The number of places is limited. Please follow the link below to register.

The second day is devoted to closed sessions, attended by the project participants.

December 14-15, 2021
9.00 CET (UTC+1)
ECS Gdańsk & online

Legal ramifications of the 1981 Martial Law in Poland

The Martial Law imposed in Poland in 1981, has changed the consciousness of Poles and all Europeans. At the time, even Communist parties of the Western Europe decided to openly support the Solidarity movement, which had been founded several months before. The event, dubbed by a Polish historian, Andrzej Paczkowski, “Wojna Polsko-Jaruzelska” (the Poland-Jaruzelski war, which refers to general Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was the main instigator of the Martial Law), still ignites numerous controversies. In particular, the issue of bringing the responsible people to justice still sparks lively discussions and arguments. Therefore, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Martial Law in Poland, SWPS University’s Institute of Law and the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk are opening a discussion on the legacy of this historical event in the Polish law, especially in the context of difficult choices that the judiciary of the post-1989 independent Poland had to face.

The main theme of the conference has been chosen on purpose. Since the beginning of the Polish transformation, the judiciary has been carefully observed, especially by the groups challenging the meaning and achievements of the transformation. The judiciary has been accused of protecting members of the fallen regime, while court rulings and verdicts have been questioned. The issue of accountability for the crimes perpetrated by the Communist regime have fueled all kinds of antiestablishment and populist movements, not only in Poland, but also in Central Europe.


Many lawyers, sociologists, philosophers, politicians and representatives of the arts and culture community, who are acclaimed across Europe, will participate in our conference. The selection of these renowned experts ensures that we take the broadest possible perspective and offer a comprehensive discussion on the matter.

The Mayor of the City of Gdańsk, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, will be our special guest.


Jerzy Zajadło – Professor of theory and philosophy of law, a long-standing lawyer of the University of Gdańsk. He has been actively engaged in the protection of the rule of law in Poland, since the beginning of the Constitutional crisis.

Cezary Łazarewicz – journalist, winner of the NIKE award for his book Żeby nie było śladów. Sprawa Grzegorza Przemyka (Leave no Traces. The Case of Grzegorz Przemyk), which has been adapted to screen under the same title.

Monika Nalepa – Professor of the University of Chicago, a world-renowned expert on transitional justice, author of a book Skeletons in the Closet.

Michał Balcerzak – Professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. His researcher interests focus on human rights and transitional justice from the perspective of the European Court for Human Rights.

Klaus Bachmann – journalist, researchers, Professor of SWPS University. His research focuses on transitional justice from the perspective of social sciences and political science.

Paweł Osik – advocate, partner at Pietrzak, Sidor & Partners Law Firm in Warsaw. Professionally, he specializes in lustration proceedings (i.e. vetting of government officials in Central and Eastern Europe following the fall of Communism), former collaborator of the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights, where he coordinated the “Prawa człowieka a rozliczenia z przeszłością” (Human Rights and Redress of the Past) project.

Zoltán Fleck – Professor at the ELTE University in Budapest, sociologist specializing in theory and sociology of law, Head of the Center for Theory and Sociology of Law.

Jānis Pleps – Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of State Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia in Riga, Legal Policy Adviser to the President of Latvia, Egils Levits, and his predecessor Raimonds Vējonis.

Daniel Smilov – Professor of Sofia University (St. Kliment Ohridski), political scientist, constitutional lawyer, Program Director of the Centre for Liberal Studies initiative.

Zdeněk Kühn – Professor of the Charles University in Prague, judge of the Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic, philosopher and theoretician of law. He also collaborates with the Faculty of Law of the University of Michigan in the United States.

Andreea Vertes – lecturer and researcher at the Western University of Timișoara. Her research focuses on the issues concerning democracy, EU law, and human rights.

Filip Cyuńczyk – Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of SWPS University, sociologist and historian of law. His research interests include legal regulation of collective memory, and attempts at legal petrification of collective identities in Central Europe after the fall of Communism.


DAY 1: DECEMBER 14, 2021

Languages: English/Polish (for lectures delivered in Polish we will provide English translation)
Location: Temporary Exhibition Hall on the ground floor

09:00-14:00 Participants' arrival in Gdańsk

14:00-15:30 Opportunity to visit the exhibition at the European Solidarity Center

15:30-16:00 Official Opening of the Conference

  • Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, Mayor of the City of Gdańsk
  • David Gregosz, Director of Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Poland (online)
  • Roman Cieślak, Rector of SWPS University, (online)
  • Basil Kerski, Director of the European Solidarity Center

16:00-17:30 Panel I: Dealing with the past after the Communism – Chair: Basil Kerski

  • The role of the courts in transitional justice implementation – Jerzy Zajadło, University of Gdańsk
  • Unsuccessful reckoning with the legacy of the 1981 Martial Law in Poland: the case of Grzegorz Przemyk – Cezary Łazarewicz, journalist
  • Martial law, secret collaborators, and the lack of possibility to implement transitional justice in Poland – Monika Nalepa, University of Chicago (online)

17:30-17:45 Coffee break

17:45-19:15 Panel II: International, supranational and national dealing with the past – Chair: Tomasz Snarski, University of Gdańsk

  • Individual criminal responsibility for communist crimes in CEE states, the perspective of the European Court of Human Rights – Michał Balcerzak, the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń
  • The European Union and transitional justice – Klaus Bachmann, SWPS University
  • Judges, and the difficult past: the legal profession's perspective – Paweł Osik, the Warsaw Bar Association

19:30-23:59 Dinner

DAY 2: DECEMBER 15, 2021

Language: English
Location: Conference Room no. 5, on the 3rd floor

09:00-9:30 Introductory Session

  • The Central European judicial dealing with the past from German perspective: A couple of comments – Klaus Bachmann, SWPS University

09:30-11:00 Panel I – Chair: Adam Bodnar, SWPS University

  • Rule of law as a weak force of social integration in post-communist states – Zoltán Fleck, Eötvös Loránd University
  • Judicial Power in Latvia: evolutionary development from legal formalism to the guardian of the rule of law – Jānis Pleps, University of Latvia
  • Judicial dealing with the past: Bulgarian perspective – Daniel Smilov, the University of Sofia

11:00-11:15 Coffee break

11:15-12:45 Panel II – Chair: Zoltán Fleck, Eötvös Loránd University

  • Judging the communist past: the case of Czechia – Zdeněk Kühn, Charles University in Prague (online)
  • The Constitutional Court of Romania and its impact on the law on the disclosure of Securitate files – Andreea Vertes, West University of Timișoara (online)
  • The judicial "thick-line"? A couple of comments on the Polish Constitutional Court, decision in case K 22/16 – Filip Cyuńczyk, SWPS University

12:45-13:30 Lunch break

13:30-14:30 Panel III: Lawyers in Transition – Chair: Filip Cyuńczyk, SWPS University

  • Roundtable discussion open to on-site and online participants

14:30-14:45 Coffee break

14:45-15:15 Presentation of the project and information about next steps – Filip Cyuńczyk, SWPS University

15:15-15:45 Closing remarks by Adam Bodnar


MNG logo ENG 400
Konrad Adenauer Foundation


Date and Location

December 14-15, 2021
Europejskie Centrum Solidarności w Gdańsku
pl. Solidarności 1
Hybrid format: On-site and Online


Filip Cyuńczyk, Ph.D., SWPS University
tel: +48 513 021 576
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jakub Kufel, Ph.D., European Solidarity Centre
tel: +48 785 120 682
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.