The Role of Regional Organizations in the Protection of Constitutionalism

Publication Date: 
Item Reference: 
International IDEA Discussion Paper 17/2016
Publication Place: 
International IDEA
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This Discussion Paper compares how three regional organizations—the African Union, the European Union and the Organization of American States—protect constitutionalism in their member states. It focuses on the types of measures to protect constitutionalism in cases of fundamental threats to and violations of the constitutional order, rather than on the mechanisms to promote constitutional governance. 

It argues that regional organizations should move beyond policies that target only the most blatant violations of the constitutional order, namely unconstitutional changes of government in the form of a classic coup d’état, and increase their focus on more nuanced interruptions of the constitutional order, such as constitutional crises engineered by leaders including the adoption of (un)constitutional measures to undermine the constitutional order or through a gradual process to erode the integrity of a constitutional regime. 

It analyses the law, policy and practice of these three organizations to outline policy-relevant conclusions, good practices and common limitations.