Decoding Geopolitical Language in New Constitutions: An Analysis of Contemporary Constitutional Content
A nation’s constitutional text reflects how the state perceives its citizens and its prescribed place in the world, including its official territorial and cultural relations with the international community. These indicators or “geopolitical messages” are rarely obvious to the casual reader; yet successfully decoding them can yield valuable insights with respect to understanding how the newborn state perceives itself and its relationship with the outside world. The progress (or lack of it) of human rights is a key international issue examined in this chapter.
This chapter summarizes a study that sought to decode geopolitical messages contained within a number of relatively recent national constitutions. The study’s core purpose identifies and analyzes geopolitical messages in constitutions to determine to what degree, if any, that these selected constitutions reflect increasing conformance with internationally accepted human rights standards.
Critical to the study’s usefulness was the selection of a standard that the international community considers legitimate. For this reason, the study selected the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United Nations adopted in 1948. The introduction, below, elaborates upon the selection criteria.
Since progress over time was a factor, the study selected four post-Cold War constitutions (Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland) and compared them with four others that were created after September 11, 2001 (South or Southern Sudan, Montenegro, Serbia, Tunisia). Ukraine became the ninth study subject because of its unique geopolitical status between Russia and the European Union (EU) and for its substantial number of constitutional revisions at the end of the Cold War, in 2004, and in 2010. Ukraine’s constitution, therefore, effectively qualifies as a constitution from both eras.
This study focuses on the primary question: Do “post-9/11” state constitutions conform to UDHR human rights standards more closely than “post-Cold War” constitutions?
The study’s hypothesis is that post-9/11 constitutions did indeed more closely conform to global standards.
KeywordsHuman rights Geopolitical messages Post-Cold War September 11 New countries
- Anderson, C. E. (1990). Exporting democracy. American Bar Association Journal 76:18.Google Scholar
- Applebaum, A. (2005). How the Pope ‘Defeated communism’. The Washington Post.Google Scholar
- Baker, J. R. (1993). An analysis of economic and political reform in command economies: The polish case. Orlando: University of Central Florida.Google Scholar
- Baker, J. R. (1996). Decoding geopolitical messages of new constitutions: A textual analysis of contemporary constitutional issues. University of Kentucky. Master’s Thesis.Google Scholar
- Baker, J. R. (2006a). Germany: Some walls didn’t fall. The Orlando Sentinel. Jan. 22. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/keyword/east-germany
- Baker, J. R. (2006b). Encyclopedia of the developing world. “Solidarity.” Routledge Publications, New York, NY.Google Scholar
- Baker, J. R., & Green, R. W. (1996). Interpreting human rights in constitutions of new states: A textual content analysis of the constitutions of Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Ukraine. Columbia: Political Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers, University of South Carolina.Google Scholar
- Beloff, N. (1985). Tito’s flawed legacy. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Bertsch, G. K. (1990). Reform and revolution in communist systems. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.Google Scholar
- Beta Saturday. (2007). Various estimates of the new constitution of Montenegro. http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2007&mm=10&dd=20&nav_id=268671&nav_category=167&order=hrono
- Blaustein, A. P., & Flanz, G. H. (Eds.). (1995). Constitutions of Austria, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Constitutions of the countries of the world. New York: Oceana Publications, Dobbs Ferry.Google Scholar
- Council of Europe Press. (1995). The rebirth of democracy: 12 constitutions of central and Eastern Europe. The Netherlands: Council of European Press, Strasbourg, France.Google Scholar
- Cuvalo, A. (1990). The croatian national movement: 1966–1972. East European monographs. New York: Distributed by Colombia Press.Google Scholar
- D’Alemberte, T. (1991). The ABA in Central and Eastern Europe. American Bar Association Journal 77:10.Google Scholar
- Davies, R. W., & Wheatcroft, S. G. (2004). The years of hunger: Soviet agriculture, 1931–1933. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Dolot, M. (1985). Execution by hunger: The hidden holocaust. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Eterovich, F. H., & Spalatin, C. (Eds.). (1964). Croatia: Land, people, culture (Vol. 1). Toronto: University of Toronto.Google Scholar
- Goldscheider, C. (1995). Population, ethnicity, and nation building. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Hawton, N. (2006). Rare unity over serb constitution. BBC News, Belgrade. 30 Oct. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6097558.stm
- Korbel, J. (1977). Twentieth century Czechoslovakia: The meanings of its history. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Mamatey, V. S., & Luza, R. (1972). A history of the Czechoslovak republic: 1918–1948. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- McNally, R., & Manley and Associates. (1995). Rand McNally quick reference atlas version 1.0. Rand McNally Software.Google Scholar
- Raun, T. U. (1991). Estonia and the Estonians. California: Hoover Institution Press.Google Scholar
- Refugees News. (2001). News and resources. April. http://web.archive.org/web/20041210024759/http://www.refugees.org/news/crisis/sudan.htm
- Reske, H. J. (1991). US constitution unpopular. American Bar Association Journal 77:28–29.Google Scholar
- Sallon, P. H. (2014). “Libertés, droits des femmes: les avancées de la Constitution tunisienne.” Le Monde. January 27. http://www.lemonde.fr/tunisie/article/2014/01/27/des-avancees-majeures-dans-la-constitution-tunisienne_4354973_1466522.html#kOvsp3r7530E1cfh.99
- Schwartz, H. (1991). Constitutional developments in East Central Europe. Journal of International Affairs. Summer 45:(1)71–89.Google Scholar
- Schwartz, H. (1992). The Bill of Rights in America and Central East Europe. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Winter 15:97.Google Scholar
- Seroka, J., & Pavlovic, V. (1993). The tragedy of Yugoslavia: The failure of democratic transition. New York: M. E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
- Singer, M., & Wildavsky, A. (1993). The real world order: Zones of peace, zones of turmoil. Chatham: Chatham House Publishers.Google Scholar
- Stanley, A. (1996). A future in doubt: Has Yeltsin illness clouded perspective? The New York Times. 4 July.Google Scholar
- Statistics Estonia. (2016). Rahvaarv rahvuse järgi, 1. Jaanuar, aasta. 10 June.Google Scholar
- Statistics Estonia. (2018). Government statistical database. Population and figures. http://pub.stat.ee/px-web.2001/I_Databas/Population/01Population_indicators_and_composition/04Population_figure_and_composition/04Population_figure_and_composition.asp.
- Tolz, V. (1993). Drafting the new Russian constitution. RFE-RL Research Report. 16 July.Google Scholar
- Woodward, S. L. (1995). Balkan tragedy: Chaos and dissolution after the cold war. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institute.Google Scholar