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Notes on Continental Constitutional Identities

By: Benjamen Franklen Gussen



Geo-constitutional analysis examines the reciprocal effect of geography on constitutions. Within this analysis, a continental constitutional identity focuses on the intersection between institutional geographies and institutional identities, where constitutions are understood as meta-institutions. In some constitutions, belonging to a continent is part of the national identity, while other constitutions only signal a non-geographic, usually an ethnic, identity. The US Constitution is an example of the former. The quintessential example of a non-geographic constitution is the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

A similar disregard of continental identities can be found in Israel and the Arab League countries east of the Sinai Peninsula, in contrast to North African constitutions west of this peninsula. The potential for armed conflict due to the presence or absence of these identities can be mitigated by continental nesting (i.e., by aligning the geographic and socio-political characterization of a continent). The Article illustrates this approach in the context of Africa, arguably the least geopolitically misaligned among Old World continents, by explaining why a post-colonial Africa includes Israel and all Arab League countries. Similar analysis of other continents can explain how to mitigate intra- and intercontinental conflict by explicitly nesting constitutional identities within continents based on evolving geopolitical exigencies.

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