Comparative Constitutional Law in Asia

Comparative Constitutional Law in Asia

Edited by Rosalind Dixon and Tom Ginsburg

Comparative constitutional law is a field of increasing importance around the world, but much of the literature is focused on Europe, North America, and English-speaking jurisdictions. The importance of Asia for the broader field is demonstrated here in original contributions that look thematically at issues from a general perspective, with special attention on how they have been treated in East Asian jurisdictions.

Chapter 7: Classical and post-conflict federalism: Implications for Asia

Sujit Choudhry

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, law - academic, asian law, comparative law, constitutional and administrative law

Extract

Federalism has long been a topic of study for comparative constitutional law. However, the scholarly literature on federalism is in a process of transition. For most of the twentieth century, the study of federalism was oriented around a standard set of cases in the developed world: Australia, Canada, Switzerland and the United States of America. These cases provided the raw material for certain fundamental questions: What is federalism? Why should federations be adopted? What role is there for courts? For the most part, these questions appear to have been answered, often with the aid of comparative analysis. To be sure, important debates persist. For example, scholars disagree over the relative priority to be given to the different goals served by federalism and how those goals should shape the allocation of jurisdiction. In the area of environmental policy, for example, new opportunities for democratic self-government and policy experimentation argue for greater regional authority but also generate inter-jurisdictional externalities, which argue against it. This debate relies on an implicit understanding of its terms and range, and participants in such discussions of federalism often draw on the same standard set of jurisdictions as illustrations of models to be followed and dangers to be avoided. Recent developments in the practice of constitutional design have challenged this consensus. Many states in the developing world, such as Ethiopia, Iraq and Nigeria, have adopted federal solutions to manage ethnic conflict, often as part of a broader package of post-conflict constitutional reforms.

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