The following post was kindly written by Dr James Melton, an academic based at University College London’s Constitution Unit.
I am pleased to announce the launch of Constitute, a website for reading, searching, and comparing the world’s constitutions. I wrote previously about the importance of national constitutions and explained how Constitute will improve constitutional design by allowing constitutional drafters to compare constitutions written all over the world (more here). I am not the only one with this opinion. Mugambi Laibuta, Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, states the following: “I must say it is an exciting tool that will revolutionise research in comparative constitutional law, constitutional review, design and constitutional drafting. It would have been great if we had this tool while we were drafting the Kenyan Constitution over three years ago.”
Constitute contains searchable copies of the world’s constitutions. However, Constitute is more than just a repository of constitutional texts. The project draws on data collected by the Comparative Constitutions Project over the last 8 years to assign topic tags to provisions within constitutions. This allows powerful, topic-based searches of those texts. There are more than 300 topics for users to choose from on the site, which range from the fairly general – e.g. the provision of basic civil and political rights – to the very specific – e.g. legislative quota for minority groups. For those interested in regional or temporal trends in constitution-making, the search results can be filtered by country and year.
We anticipate that some users will want to use the site to learn more about their own constitution. This is easily accomplished by filtering the results to display on the country where you reside. Want to know if your constitution protects freedom of association or the right to a reasonable standard of living or even the rights of breast-feeding mothers? Just search for the term you are interested in, using either a topic or free text search, and filter the results to display only the country where you reside. (For the curious reader, note that only Ecuador’s constitution mentions the rights of breast-feeding mothers.)
Constitute has something for everyone. Whether you want to compare the “structure of executive” in countries around the world, to see if you are granted the “freedom to express” your political views, or to move to a country with the “right to rest and leisure” for longer holidays, Constitute is the tool for you.