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We review the Icelandic draft constitution

On the heels of an extraordinarily interesting experiment in constitutional design by crowdsourcing, Iceland is headed to the polls a week from today to test the public's reaction to the draft constitution.  This draft is a proposed revision of the 1944 document, which was motivated in part by recent economic instability.

The non-binding referendum will include six questions, which ask voters for their general opinion of the draft as well as their opinion of particular elements such as the provision for natural resources, the role of the church, the electoral system for the legislature, and a provision regarding national referenda on legislation.

The authors of the Comparative Constitutions Project (Zach Elkins, Tom Ginsburg, and James Melton), reviewed the draft constitution in this report.  Our focus is on identifying novel or atypical elements of the draft and situating the draft’s provisions with respect to those of both current and historical constitutions, including the Icelandic document of 1944.

Again, the .pdf version of our review of the crowdsourced draft constitution is here.


  1. I am curious about the absence of the right to a healthy environment in your analysis. Article 31 of the draft Icelandic constitution states: "All shall by law be accorded the right to a healthy environment, fresh water, unpolluted air and unspoiled nature. This means that the diversity of life and land must be maintained and nature’s objects of value, uninhabited areas, vegetation and soil shall enjoy protection. Earlier damages shall be repaired as possible."
    My research, as well of that of David Law and Mila Versteeg, indicates that the right to a healthy environment has gained more widespread constitutional recognition than other economic, social, and cultural rights. This is an interesting phenomenon. Isn't it?

    1. I agree with you and I had to say that, the Iceland is so beautiful.

  2. This means that the diversity of life and land must be maintained and nature’s objects of value, uninhabited areas, vegetation and soil shall enjoy protection. Earlier damages shall be repaired as possible.


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  4. yep.. Iceland is one of the best favorite living place of me. I want to learn Icelandic, alongside my current knowledge of French and German... I observed- the sounds very nice and pretty, especially when my friend, Natalia speaks it ;)

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