According to a research paper issued by Constitutional INSIGHTS published by Melbourne Forum in 2018 on constitutional issues, the world has multiple countries having various constitutional arrangements for different parts of their respective jurisdictions. There are many factors cited for reasons behind devising asymmetrical constitutional arrangements such as culture, religion, geography, wealth, historical grievances etc. Canada has asymmetrical federal arrangement with its French speaking Province of Quebec, allowing it to keep its Napoleon Civil Law, and for Native Territories within Provinces. Puntland, Somaliland and Banadir Region could qualify for asymmetrical arrangement to be enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

But, what is asymmetrical constitutional arrangement? This is how it has been depicted by Constitutional INSIGHTS.

Asymmetric Territorial
Arrangements in
Decentralized Systems

This issue of Constitutional INSIGHTS deals with the questions presented by constitutional or legal arrangements that treat one region of a state differently from others. Differential treatment of this kind is sometimes described as ‘asymmetry’. It can be a useful tool in constitutional design. It may be particularly important in constitution building after conflict. For obvious reasons, however, it also may create envy or resentment on the part of other regions.
Accommodating asymmetry in an existing constitution may, in some contexts, present other challenges as well.
Asymmetry is a feature of constitutional arrangements in all parts of the world. This issue of Constitutional INSIGHTS explores when, how and with what consequences it has been used in Asia and the Pacific. Practice in the region is integral to an understanding of global constitutional experience. The use of asymmetry in Asia and the Pacific offers insights for constitution building in states and regions
elsewhere. Examples of asymmetry on which this issue of Constitutional INSIGHTS draws include: Jammu and Kashmir in India; Aceh in Indonesia; the Bangsamoro region in the Philippines; the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG); Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia; and the Oecusse in Timor-Leste. As these examples show, asymmetry can be used in a range of different systems:
federations, devolved systems of government and more centralized
unitary states. States in the region in which asymmetry could be a useful tool in the future include Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
This issue of Constitutional INSIGHTS addresses four key questions:

  1. What does asymmetry involve?
  2. In what circumstances is it useful?
  3. What legal framework is needed for asymmetry?
  4. What issues arise in the course of implementing asymmetry? Read more here by downloading the file below:

[Courtesy: Melbourne Forum, Constitutional INSIGHTS].

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