ConstitutionNet Updates: August 2017

Dear Reader,

In the August newsletter we share with you three original Voices from the Field and a number of updates on constitutional reform processes in different parts of the world.

The Sri Lankan Supreme Court has determined that the advocacy of federalism is not tantamount to the advocacy of secession. In doing so, it has for the first time recognised the Tamil minority as a ‘people’ entitled to the right to internal self-determination. This conclusion may boost current prospects for constitutional reform by imparting judicial approval to devolution options that have hitherto been regarded as unacceptable. But it may also reanimate opponents of reform to ever greater heights of opposition to devolution and power-sharing.

Following stalled opposition efforts to recall President Nicolas Maduro and signs of internal divisions within the ruling government, the Venezuelan government has established a National Constituent Assembly whose immediate goal is to disempower opposition to the government. The empowerment of constituent assemblies to control the regular political process, beyond their task of constitution drafting, could allow political groups to quell any dissidence and to impose an authoritarian political regime.

The conflict between Catalonia and the central authorities of the Spanish state has been growing since the Constitutional Court read down a significant part of the newly adopted Catalonian Statute of Autonomy in 2010, and is currently centred on Catalonia’s plan to hold an independence referendum on 1 October 2017. This conflict has been characterised by a constant confrontation between the Spanish and Catalan authorities and a lack of dialogue or negotiation. In order to have a chance of success, the proposals for dialogue and reform by the Spanish Government must address the long-standing request of the institutions of self-government of Catalonia, which represents the demand of a significant segment of the population, to be properly recognised as a minority nation, and therefore adopt an understanding of Spain as a plurinational state.

The remaining updates cover a range of issues in countries ranging from Mali to Ireland and from Australia to Venezuela, providing an excellent overview of recent constitutional developments around the globe.

ConstitutionNet Analyses - Voices from the Field
  Too Little, Too Late? The Spanish Government’s Proposals to Resolve the Current Conflict with Catalonia
by Elisenda Casanas Adam
The Venezuelan political crisis and the National Constituent Assembly
by Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo
More than meets the eye? The Sri Lankan Supreme Court’s decision on the proscription of the Federal Party
by Dr Asanga Welikala
Want to contribute a ConstitutionNet Analysis from the field? Contact us!
What we are reading this month
  Op-ed: To tackle homelessness Ireland must amend constitution
Op-ed: Australia's Constitution ready for overhaul after latest dual-citizenship fiasco
Op-ed: Why Syrian constitutional debates are unlikely to bring political reform
Op-ed: Libya’s draft constitution and the stalled political process
Asia and the Pacific
North Africa/Middle East
North America
Latin America and the Caribbean
More >

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