Robert L. Maddex Constitutions of the World

ISBN 13: 9780415164368

Constitutions of the World

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From Algeria to Zimbabwe, Constitutions of the World is a guide to the constitutions and constitutional histories of eighty nations. It will prove an invaluable resource for any teacher or student interested in politics, law, human rights or the political history of nations across the world. Strucured alphabetically each chapter profiles one country in an easy-to-use format. For every country a wealth of information is to be found.

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About the Author:

Robert L. Maddex, author of The Illustrated Dictionary of Constitutional Concepts is an attorney in Washington D.C. who specializes in international law. He has served as chief counsel of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States and as an adviser on constitutional issues to several nations.

From Booklist:

In 1215 King John of England was forced to confirm certain rights of his subjects in the Magna Carta. This charter of liberties established the ideal we know as constitutionalism, that is, government based on abstract principles and the rule of law. This ready-reference text summarizes the "current constitutions as well as the constitutional histories of eighty countries." The author is a Washington, D.C., attorney whose specialty is international law.

The nations covered in Constitutions were selected on the basis of size and relative importance. Also, the author wished to include a representative sample of nations from among the world's regions and to focus on places that "most people would be interested in learning about." The book was designed to be used as a vehicle for comparing and contrasting the constitutional background and climate of different nations. Therefore, the alphabetically arranged entries (generally four pages in length) are set up in a useful format: general information, constitutional history, fundamental rights, division of powers, branches of government, and amendment process.

The Honduras entry is typical. It begins with a paragraph of general information. Following is the constitutional-history section, from the arrival of Columbus in 1502 through the collapse of Spanish rule in 1821, the extension of suffrage to women in 1955, and the establishment of the sixteenth constitution in 1982. The fundamental-rights information cites sections of the present constitution (e.g., "Title 3, Declarations, Rights, and Guarantees, provides that the dignity of the human being is inviolable" ), as do the remaining sections.

For snapshot comparison, Constitutions includes a chart that lists the type of government (e.g., presidential republic), type of state (e.g., quasi-federal state), and type of legislature (e.g., bicameral congress) for each nation. Also included are a brief glossary, a five-page source list, and an index.

This book will be appreciated as an inexpensive alternative for small and medium-size libraries unable to afford a comprehensive, full-text constitution source such as Constitutions of the Countries of the World (Oceana Publications). Larger libraries will find it handy for ready reference but should understand that it is selective and does not provide the full text of the constitutions.

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Robert L. Maddex
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