Thursday, February 09, 2006

Constitutionalism Part II: Global Constitutionalism Erodes Sovereignty

Global constitutionalism is the belief that world governments will defer to the rules and principles enshrined in a worldly constitution and uphold the rule of law within that constitution. Throughout history, constitutionalism has changed in its meaning, authority, and its function of legitimacy. The three different waves of the constitutional process are significantly different than the recent wave of a global constitutional structure, or a New World Order. This new phase is undoubtedly more dangerous and more complicated than the previous phases before it.

The first wave of constitutionalism occurred from the 1700s up until the 1850s. This was the stage which established constitutions as a force and product of a law abiding society. Virtually all of these constitutions were established after a bloody revolution breaking away from a monarchy. Examples range from the United States in 1776 to France which had about 5 revolutions from 1793 to 1848. These constitutions were based upon limited government authority, religious freedom, and were products of the Enlightenment. The global constitutionalism setting is probably most similar to this stage. If in fact there were to be an adopted global constitution, it must remain from being too long and should be pithy; precisely what constitutions during this time frame were based upon. Also, global constitutionalism is brought forth because of the sense of distrust in nation-state actors; much like the constitutions in this era had distrust in government.

The second wave of constitutionalism was between the years of the end of WWII till the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. This stage was focused on nation-states becoming self-determining. From Japan and Germany after WWII to Spain and Portugal in the 1970s this stage focused on political rights and conceptual structures such as popular sovereignty. Global constitutionalism was making a rise in this era as well, with the formation of the UN, the establishment of NATO, and the creation of GATT (present day WTO). These institutions further developed the global states as one uniform body embracing subtle rules of law across the globe. The peril of this global constitutionalism was slowly eroding some sovereignty from many countries participating in this process.

The third wave of constitutionalism occurred after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. A rise of independent, free of USSR controlled states like Hungary, Poland, East Germany and Romania surfaced in this era, and constitutions were created to ensure freedom for all citizens. The iron grip of the Soviet bloc was destroyed and globally the US was left standing in a great position as the world’s number sole global superpower. These ex-communist countries wanted socio-economic rights in their constitutions, something which global constitutionalism will take no part in.

The formulation of a global constitution is extremely dangerous. Not only will the sovereignty be tarnished in each country, but the philosophical aspect of utopia is simply unattainable. How can a world, which embraces and sustains millions of different ideologies, embrace a structure that impedes freedom and culture in the very aspect it is hoping to achieve? Unfortunately, this is the next phase in constitutionalism; a phase that potentially, could leave a stigma on many freedoms we love and are guaranteed on Earth.