Ten constitutional preambles you may not know
How do nations across the globe declare their intent in the formation of a new government? To celebrate the launch of the innovative, new platform Oxford Constitutions of the World, we have highlighted a broad range of preambles from several jurisdictions below and the full constitutions freely available on the Oxford Constitutions of the World site for a limited time. Take a look and let us know your favorite preamble!
WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The French people solemnly proclaim their attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789, confirmed and complemented by the Preamble to the Constitution of 1946, and to the rights and duties as defined in the Charter for the Environment of 2004.
By virtue of these principles and that of the self-determination of peoples, the Republic offers to the overseas territories which have expressed the will to adhere to them new institutions founded on the common ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity and conceived for the purpose of their democratic development.
We the representatives of the Brazilian People, convened the National Constituent Assembly, to institute a democratic state destined to ensure the exercise of social and individual rights, liberty, security, well-being, development, equality and justice as supreme values of a fraternal, pluralist and unprejudiced society, founded on social harmony and committed, in the domestic and international orders, to the peaceful solution of disputes, promulgate, under the protection of God, the following CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERATIVE REPUBLIC OF BRAZIL.
We, the multinational people of the Russian Federation, united by a common destiny on our land, asserting human rights and freedoms, civil peace and accord, preserving the historic unity of the State, proceeding from the universally recognized principles of equality and self-determination of peoples, honoring the memory of our ancestors who have passed on to us their love and respect for the Fatherland and faith in goodness and justice, reviving the sovereign statehood of Russia and asserting the strength of its democratic foundations, striving to secure the well-being and prosperity of Russia, proceeding from a sense of responsibility for our Fatherland before the present and future generations, and conscious that we are part of the world community, do hereby adopt
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a [SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation];
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
China is one of the countries with the longest histories in the world. The people of all nationalities in China have jointly created a splendid culture and have a glorious revolutionary tradition.
Feudal China was gradually reduced after 1840 to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country. The Chinese people waged wave upon wave of heroic struggles for national independence and liberation and for democracy and freedom. Great and earth-shaking historical changes have taken place in China in the 20th century. The Revolution of 1911, led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, abolished the feudal monarchy and gave birth to the Republic of China. But the Chinese people had yet to fulfill their historical task of overthrowing imperialism and feudalism.
After waging hard, protracted and tortuous struggles, armed and otherwise, the Chinese people of all nationalities led by the Communist Party of China with Chairman Mao Zedong as its leader ultimately, in 1949, overthrew the rule of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism, won the great victory of the new-democratic revolution and founded the People’s Republic of China. Thereupon, the Chinese people took state power into their own hands and became masters of the country.
After the founding of the People’s Republic, the transition of Chinese society from a new- democratic to a socialist society was effected step by step. The socialist transformation of the private ownership of the means of production was completed, the system of exploitation of man by man eliminated and the socialist system established. The people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants, which is in essence the dictatorship of the proletariat, has been consolidated and developed. The Chinese people and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army have thwarted aggression, sabotage and armed provocations by imperialists and hegemonists, safeguarded China’s national independence and security and strengthened its national defense.
Major successes have been achieved in economic development. An independent and fairly comprehensive socialist system of industry has in the main been established. There has been a marked increase in agricultural production. Significant progress has been made in educational, scientific, cultural and other undertakings, and socialist ideological education has yielded noteworthy results. The living standards of the people have improved considerably.
Both the victory of China’s new-democratic revolution and the successes of its socialist cause have been achieved by the Chinese people of all nationalities under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, and by upholding truth, correcting errors and overcoming numerous difficulties and hardships. China will stay in the primary stage of socialism for a long period of time. The basic task of the nation is to concentrate its efforts on socialist modernization along the road of Chinese-style socialism. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important Theory of “Three Represents,” the Chinese people of all nationalities will continue to adhere to the people’s democratic dictatorship, follow the socialist road, persist in reform and opening-up, steadily improve socialist institutions, develop a socialist market economy, advance socialist democracy, improve the socialist legal system and work hard and self-reliantly to modernize industry, agriculture, national defense and science and technology step by step, promote the coordinated development of the material, political and spiritual civilizations to turn China into a powerful and prosperous socialist country with a high level of culture and democracy.
The exploiting classes as such have been eliminated in our country. However, class struggle will continue to exist within certain limits for a long time to come. The Chinese people must fight against those forces and elements, both at home and abroad, that are hostile to China’s socialist system and try to undermine it.
Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.
In building socialism it is imperative to rely on the workers, peasants and intellectuals and unite with all the forces that can be united. In the long years of revolution and construction, there has been formed under the leadership of the Communist Party of China a broad patriotic united front that is composed of democratic parties and people’s organizations and embraces all socialist working people, all builders of socialism, all patriots who support socialism and all patriots who stand for reunification of the motherland. [As amended by the Fourth Constitutional Amending Law of March 14, 2004] This united front will continue to be consolidated and developed. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference is a broadly representative organization of the united front, which has played a significant historical role and will continue to do so in the political and social life of the country, in promoting friendship with the people of other countries and in the struggle for socialist modernization and for the reunification and unity of the country. The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China will exist and develop in China for a long time to come.
The People’s Republic of China is a unitary multi-national state built up jointly by the people of all its nationalities. Socialist relations of equality, unity and mutual assistance have been established among them and will continue to be strengthened. In the struggle to safeguard the unity of the nationalities, it is necessary to combat big-nation chauvinism, mainly Han chauvinism, and also necessary to combat local-national chauvinism. The state does its utmost to promote the common prosperity of all nationalities in the country.
China’s achievements in revolution and construction are inseparable from support by the people of the world. The future of China is closely linked with that of the whole world. China adheres to an independent foreign policy as well as to the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence in developing diplomatic relations and economic and cultural exchanges with other countries; China consistently opposes imperialism, hegemonism and colonialism, works to strengthen unity with the people of other countries, supports the oppressed nations and the developing countries in their just struggle to win and preserve national independence and develop their national economies, and strives to safeguard world peace and promote the cause of human progress.
This Constitution affirms the achievements of the struggles of the Chinese people of all nationalities and defines the basic system and basic tasks of the state in legal form; it is the fundamental law of the state and has supreme legal authority. The people of all nationalities, all state organs, the armed forces, all political parties and public organizations and all enterprises and undertakings in the country must take the Constitution as the basic norm of conduct, and they have the duty to uphold the dignity of the Constitution and ensure its implementation.
We, the people of Korea, proud of a resplendent history and traditions dating from time immemorial, upholding the cause of the Provisional Republic of Korea Government born of the March First Independence Movement of 1919 and the democratic ideals of the April Nineteenth Uprising of 1960 against injustice, having assumed the mission of democratic reform and peaceful unification of our homeland and having determined to consolidate national unity with justice, humanitarianism and brotherly love, and
To destroy all social vices and injustice, and
To afford equal opportunities to every person and provide for the fullest development of individual capabilities in all fields, including political, economic, social and cultural life by further strengthening the basic free and democratic order conducive to private initiative and public harmony, and
To help each person discharge those duties and responsibilities concomitant to freedoms and rights, and
To elevate the quality of life for all citizens and contribute to lasting world peace and the common prosperity of mankind and thereby to ensure security, liberty and happiness for ourselves and our posterity forever,
Do hereby amend, through national referendum following a resolution by the National Assembly, the Constitution, ordained and established on the Twelfth Day of July anno Domini Nineteen hundred and forty-eight, and amended eight times subsequently.
The People of Côte d’Ivoire,
Conscious of their liberty and national identity, of their responsibility before history and humanity;
Conscious of their ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and desirous to build one nation unified in solidarity and prosperous;
Convinced that union with respect for diversity assures economic progress and social well-being;
Profoundly attached to constitutional legality and to democratic institutions;
Proclaims its adherence to the rights and freedoms as defined in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1948 and in the African Charter of the Rights of Man and of Peoples of 1981;
Expressing its attachment to democratic values recognized to all, the free people, notably:
— The respect and the protection of fundamental freedoms, individual as well as collective,
— The separation and the equilibrium of powers,
— Transparency in the conduct of public affairs,
Committed to the promotion of regional and sub-regional integration, in view of the constitution of African Unity,
Gives freely and solemnly as the fundamental law this Constitution adopted by Referendum.
In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Éire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,
Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.
WE, THE PEOPLE OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA—
— united in one nation
— pay homage to the memory of our ancestors—the source of our strength and origin of our combined heritage
— acknowledge the worthy customs and traditional wisdoms of our people—which have come down to us from generation to generation
— pledge ourselves to guard and pass on to those who come after us our noble traditions and the Christian principles that are ours now.
By authority of our inherent right as ancient, free and independent peoples
WE, THE PEOPLE, do now establish this sovereign nation and declare ourselves, under the guiding hand of God, to be the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
AND WE ASSERT, by virtue of that authority
— that all power belongs to the people—acting through their duly elected representatives
— that respect for the dignity of the individual and community interdependence are basic principles of our society
— that we guard with our lives our national identity, integrity and self respect
— that we reject violence and seek consensus as a means of solving our common problems
— that our national wealth, won by honest, hard work be equitably shared by all
WE DO NOW THEREFORE DECLARE
that we, having resolved to enact a Constitution for the Independent State of Papua New Guinea
AND ACTING through our Constituent Assembly on 15 August 1975
HEREBY ESTABLISH, ADOPT and GIVE TO OURSELVES this Constitution to come into effect on Independence Day, that is 16 September 1975.
IN SO DOING WE, THE PEOPLE OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA, SET BEFORE OURSELVES THESE NATIONAL GOALS AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES THAT UNDERLIE OUR CONSTITUTION:—
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Image credit: Constitution of India, 1948-49. Beohar Rammanohar Sinha illuminated, beautified and decorated the original manuscript calligraphed by Prem Behari Narain Raizada. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.