Click on the markers to learn more about other constitutions from around the world.
It defines ‘States’ to include the colony of New Zealand. This leaves the door open to New Zealand becoming a state of Australia in the future.
The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law in Canada; the country’s constitution is an amalgamation of codified acts and uncodified traditions and conventions. It outlines Canada’s system of government, as well as the civil rights of all Canadian citizens and those in Canada.
The French Constitution has a charter that guarantees every citizen the right to a balanced and healthy environment. In ten articles, the charter outlines a series of environmental rights and responsibilities incumbent on the French people, ranging from the right to access information about the environment to an obligation upon political leaders to promote sustainable development. The French hailed the charter as a first of its kind; former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin stated that the amendment ‘raises sustainable development to the highest level in our legal structure, alongside the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’.
In Part III which outlines the Fundamental Rights of Indian Citizens, Article 29 and 30 specify rights for cultural minorities in India.“29. (1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.” Minorities also have the constitutional right to establish and administer their own educational institutions.
Consisting of a preamble, 130 articles, and supplementary provisions, the Korean Constitution provides for an executive branch headed by a president and an appointed prime minister, a unicameral legislature called the National Assembly, and a judiciary consisting of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and lower courts.
There have been many revisions to the Constitution since 1814, with some parts removed and others added. In 1988, a new article was added establishing constitutional guarantees for the indigenous Sami people of northern Scandinavia. Article 110a reads: “It is the responsibility of the authorities of the State to create conditions enabling the Sami people to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life.” The wording of this article emphasises the right of the Sami people to self-determination.
Singapore has an interesting arrangement where, in addition to elected MPs that represent a constituency of citizens, they also have ‘Non-constituency MPs’ who are members of the opposition parties appointed to Parliament. The scheme was introduced in 1984 to provide a voice for the opposition in Parliament at a time when the Singaporean Parliament was dominated by one party – the People’s Action Party.
Singapore also has ‘Nominated MPs’ who are not affiliated with any political party and are there to provide a more independent voice in Parliament. Singapore has both Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) and Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). GRCs see Members of Parliament elected as a group. The GRC system was introduced in 1988 to enshrine the representation of minorities in Parliament. At least one member of a GRC must be Malay, Indian, or from another minority community in Singapore. Part IV of the Constitution of Singapore provides for fundamental rights and liberties of the citizenry, however, Part XII allows the Parliament to enact legislation that is inconsistent with these rights if it is designed to stop or prevent subversion.
It is widely considered to be one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. It came out of detailed and inclusive negotiations – the drafting process was the largest public participation programme ever carried out in South Africa – that were carried out with an acute awareness of the injustices of the country’s non-democratic past. This is clearly reflected in the constitution’s preamble and in the prominence of the human rights clauses.
Since 1891, the Swiss citizens have had the “right of initiative”, whereby referenda may be held over constitutional changes. If the parliament proposes a constitutional modification, or if 100,000 citizens sign a ‘popular’ initiative to modify the constitution, all citizens are required to vote on Constitutional Referenda, and require a 50% majority of both the votes and of each of the 26 cantons (states). The Constitution in its current, overhauled state has been in force since 1 January 2000. However with these constitutional initiatives and counterproposals the Constitution is assuredly flexible, being subject to continual changes.