Belgrade Legal Theory Group organized the third event in the summer semester of 2024 with Luka Glušac (Research Fellow at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade) on the topic of the fourth branch of government.

Glušac started the lecture by explaining the basic doctrine of the separation of powers into three branches and the position of a possible fourth branch. The “fourth branch of government” is a concept used to describe various entities or institutions outside the traditional three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) that play significant roles in governance. The main feature of these institutions, maybe the only one which seems undisputed in the literature, as argued by Glušac, is their independence. It is this constitutionally protected degree of independence that secures that the institutions are not reducible to the will of any of the other governmental branches and allows them to be conceptualised as potentially forming part of a distinct branch. One way of classifying these institutions is to Oversight or Accountability Institutions and Regulatory Agencies, but Glušac explained that such a division is far from surgical. Glušac also outlined the position of various candidates for fourth-branch institutions, such as ombuds institutions and anti-corruption agencies, in light of different fourth-branch conceptions offered by Ackerman, Tushnet and Khaitan. The main part of his lecture was dedicated to exploring the methodology for a global comparative study of fourth-branch institutions, and the implications of the difference between the “Big-C” and “small-c” constitutions for such research.

In the lively discussion that followed as part of Q&A, Glušac answered in detail the audience’s questions and suggestions regarding the different concepts of institutions, agencies and bodies, as well as the methodology for exploring fourth-branch institutions.

Ending the meeting, Mila Đorđević thanked everyone for an excellent discussion, as well as Luka Glušac for the interesting lecture.