Constitution Making in Eritrea: Why It's Necessary to Go Back to the Future

(2015), 8 African Journal of Legal Studies 237-272

Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2015-32

28 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2015 Last revised: 4 Oct 2016

Joseph Magnet

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: November 16, 2015

Abstract

Eritrea went through a constitutional process from 1995 to 1997, which resulted in a text that provides for the rule of law, democratic institutions and human rights. The text was ratified by the National Assembly, but never implemented.

The United Nations, the USA and the EU support the 1997 Constitution. They have called on Eritrea to “[i]mplement [it] fully and without further delay”.

This recommendation is challenged here. Eritrea is multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual. The 1997 Constitution creates a highly centralized Stalinist structure that experience teaches does not work in deeply diverse democracies. Eritrea requires a power sharing constitution, fabricated in a proper negotiated process.

Implementing the 1997 Constitution would likely bring Eritrea’s two large nationalities into conflict with its eight smaller nationalities with high risk for violent civil strife that could spill over into neighbouring countries. This is concerning for geopolitics and would be devastating for human rights.

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, Constitutional Design, Constitution Making, African Constitutional Law, Eritrea, Eritrea Constitution

Suggested Citation

Magnet, Joseph, Constitution Making in Eritrea: Why It's Necessary to Go Back to the Future (November 16, 2015). (2015), 8 African Journal of Legal Studies 237-272; Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2015-32. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2691461

Joseph Magnet (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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