The Constitution's Accommodation Of Social Change

2337 words - 9 pages

1. Unlike the North – a term in vogue today, among others, for highlighting the difference between the rich, industrialised nations of mostly Western Europe, North America, Australasia, and the rudimentary economies of Latin America, Asia and Africa – underdevelopment, characterised by low income levels, poverty, low living standards and other socio-economic ills seem to be a defining feature of countries in these regions, collectively described as the Global South. Thomas (2003), Hershberg and Moreno-Brid(2003), and, Solimano(2005) suggest, for instance, that the socio - economic structure of most Latin American countries remains defined by vast inequalities in income and wealth distribution, poverty, volatile growth, high mortality rate and a high level of economic vulnerability. In Asia, a number of countries including the large economies of India and China have made improvements in the 21st century in terms of reducing poverty. Yet, 22% of the developing countries in Asia live on a dollar a day . The situation is bleaker in the South and Southeast Asia region where 38% leave on less than a dollar a day and over 48% of the population living below the regions individual country poverty line . Likewise, absolute poverty is on the rise in Africa - generally recognised as the world’s richest continent in terms of natural resources - despite a recorded decline in global poverty rates (Bhattacharyya: 2005).

2. Against this bleak landscape, it is unsurprising that realising sustainable development continues to date to be a key priority in policy making processes these cases. In Africa, like elsewhere across the global south for instance, economic drivers of development have shaped constitutional reform processes as policy makers increasingly see constitutions as a mechanism for articulating the overarching legal framework for designing economic policies to meet development challenges. Although typically designed and managed by local actors, many countries across the global south have, and are increasingly seeing these processes come under regional and international influences with international actors sometimes being the main drivers of change at the national level. For instance, many of the post cold war political and constitutional reforms in the developing world and Africa in particular were also part of reforms recommended by the World Bank and donor countries to improve on economic governance to drive development (See supplement). What have been the key economic considerations for constitutional design? How are these considerations as well as the influence of regional and international actors and globalisation processes shaping constitutional design? What kind of economic systems, structures and institutions were, or are being framed in these constitutions? What has been the lived reality of these choices in terms of economic governance and development, and, what can be learned from these experiences?

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