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.