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
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
- 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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