Decoding Geopolitical Language in New Constitutions: An Analysis of Contemporary Constitutional Content
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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
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