Post-conflict constitution-making process in Agonistan

Final Essay: Post-conflict constitution-making process in Agonistan

Base your answers on the reading material, classroom discussions and power-point slides.

 

Summary of the political situation

After more than four years of bitter civil conflict, a fragile truce has been established among the

warring militias, who represent 4 major nations: Majoritarians (45% of the entire population),

Minoritarians (30%), Enclavians (5%), and Dispersians (20%). The conflict originally errupted

almost five years ago, after spatially-concentrated Minoritarians attempted to secede from

Agonistan. During the war, Minoritarians expelled the Enclavians from their territory, and have

suppressed the rights of Dispersians who lived—as their name indicates—dispersed across the

territory of Agonistan.

The war between Minoritarians and the central government led by Majoritarians did not end in a

decisive victory. Minoritarians did not obtain international recognition, and Majoritarians did not

manage to re-capture the territory held by the Minoritarians. Following international mediation led

by the United States, Russia, China and Canada, both parties agreed to a process of constitutionmaking

that will reconstitute Agonistan according to the “principles of equality, autonomy and

popular sovereignty”. In trying to stop the war and reach consensus among the parties, this

preliminary peace agreement was necessarily vague. At the moment, parties have different

interpretations of what those principles entail.

Summary of the constitutional positions of the major parties

Majoritarians argue that the principle of popular sovereignty demands respect for equal rights of all

citizens. As a result, their desire is to reconstitute Agonistan as a unified state that adopts a

presidential system of government. They argue that a strong national executive is necessary to

provide political stability, enforce the rule of law, and protect equal rights of all citizens.

Majoritarians reject federalism, and aspire to entrench the principle of national unity in the

constitution, and make it unamendable. They argue that a strong constitutional court should protect

the individual rights of all citizens, and ensure the compliance of the laws with the constitution.

Minoritarians argue that the principle of popular sovereignty demands respect for the sovereign

rights of nations. More specifically, they argue that Majoritarians and Minoritarians were the

founding nations of Agonistan, and remind the international mediators that the conflict broke out

after the central government refused to honour the bi-national character of the country. At the very

minimum, they demand that Agonistan be reconstituted as a loose federation, with maximum

autonomy for two constituent units: Majoritaria and Minoritaria. The executive would be designed

according to the principle of consociational democracy, ensuring the equal representation of both

constituent nations, and members of other nationalities such as Enclavians and Dispersians.

Instead of the presidential system of government, they prefer the parliamentary regime of

government where the head of state would play only a ceremonial role. Suspicious of the potential

of the constitutional court to contribute to the centralization of the country, they reject the idea of

judicial review. Finally, they demand that the new constitution explicitly recognize the right of each

of the constituent units to secede from Agonistan at will.

Enclavians are in favour of a unified Agonistan. Given their past experience, they resist both the

attempts of Minoritarians to incorporate their territories into Minoritaria, as well as the attempts of

Majoritarians to create a unitary state. Instead, they demand the creation of an Enclavian Federal

Region (EFR), that would unify their diverse territories as the third federal unit. Reconstituted in

that way, Agonistan would feature 3 federal units: Majoritaria, Minoritaria and EFR. Enclavians

advocate a bicameral parliament that would represent three units in the upper chamber, but reject

power-sharing at the central level of government. They favour judicial review, but don’t have strong

views on that. Fearing future Minoritaria secession, however, Enclavians demand that the

preamble of the constitution include the explicit prohibition of secession.

Dispersians are also in favour of a unified Agonistan. They favour collective rights of all groups,

and could be persuaded to support a modest form of territorial autonomy for Minoritarians and

Enclavians. However, they reject the constitutional recognition of Minoritarian or Enclavian

nationhood. Unlike Enclavians, they feel that the question of secession should not be addressed

directly by the new constitution. Likewise, they prefer to leave symbolic questions out of

constitution. In terms of the separation of powers, they prefer a parliamentary regime of

government.

Your task

As the constitutional counsel to the Canadian delegation to the Post-Conflict Constitution-Making

Advisory Council, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is asking you to write a report outlining the

proposals that Canada will submit for the consideration of the parties. Since the Minister is very

busy, make your report exhaustive but concise.

More specifically, you are asked to submit your considered opinion on:

  • The implications, or the lack of implications, of the language of popular sovereignty used by

the parties.

  • Desirable territorial structure of the new state. Should Canada advocate federalism,

confederalism, consociationalism, unitary statehood, or something else in Agonistan?

  • Desirable institutional structure of the executive. Should Canada support presidential,

parliamentary or some other system of government? More specifically, should some form of

power-sharing be adopted at the central level of decision-making? If yes, what kind?

  • The modalities of constitutional change that the new constitution will adopt. Should it embrace

the idea of basic structure? Should it make provisions for secession? If yes, how should

secession be regulated under the future constitution of Agonistan?

  • Should the new constitution feature a system of judicial review? If yes, should the new

constitution also feature a mechanism that would protect the interests of the minority nations?

 

 

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