International relations are treaty not constitutional matters

A republican constitution should simply define the territorial extent of the geography of the sovereign state, it should not subordinate or even mention any treaties that may bind any current governments to other organisations.  For example, it should remain within the authority of any government to leave the EU, UN and any of its affiliated agencies, WTO, NATO or any bilateral treaties with other countries, or join any and remain treaty bound as such.

It must remain a sovereign right to exit international organisations, as this is the right of any sovereign state to do so. When it binds itself to implement treaty obligations in domestic law, that is up to Parliament (and failure to do so can affect international relations), as it is up to Parliament to repeal that.



Below is my proposed clause.

The Government of the (United Kingdom) has full powers and authority to enter into any Treaty, Alliance or Agreement with any other international organisation, supra-national union or association or nation-state, or group of nation-states, to withdraw from such Treaty, Alliance or Agreement, and to amend its terms and provisions, following agreement with the other state parties to said Treaty, Alliance or Agreement.  

The application of any such Treaty, Alliance or Agreement to domestic affairs, will require the ratification of said Treaty, Alliance or Agreement by the authority of Parliament through the passage of appropriate legislation (or if already authorised by primary legislation, through secondary legislation, through Order in Council).


Note this does not preclude options for referenda to be applied in cases of transfers of legislative powers to international organisations or supra-national organisations.  International organisations above would include the European Union.  I am not seeking here to limit or specify the role of referenda in relation to treaties.  

edited on Apr 11, 2015 by Scott Wilson

laure roux Apr 8, 2015

Would you agree that this idea could be combined with other ideas related to sovereignty?

this is the idea where we have already combined other ideas...

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Scott Wilson Apr 8, 2015

For now I believe it is a distinct concept under international relations, because I believe it is a specific matter as to whether there should be any reference at all to international organisations that the UK is currently a member of in the constitution.  I think that point alone should be taken forward as a principle, and beyond that the issue of by what authority a UK government enters into international treaties (or exits them), is worthy of separate debate.

In short, I want to retain the right of any elected government that has the confidence of Parliament to explicitly leave membership of any international organisations (or join), without there being any constitutional constraint on it doing so (and joining one).

I do not agree with the proposals for referenda on any international organisations for the "pooling of sovereignty in relation to trade", as I do not see why a government elected with a mandate for a free trade agreement or even open skies agreement in aviation, should have to put its proposals to a referenda.  I'll discuss a stricter definition of this on the other point.

laure roux Apr 11, 2015

Okay, this is fine. Do you have a suggested clause for your idea? Could you all comment or vote on this idea, indeed, its score is 0 if no onevotes for it it may disappear in the next phase?

Scott Wilson Apr 11, 2015

Yes, I have edited the proposal above, with a suggested clause that merely empowers governments to enter into membership of international organisations or bilateral/multilateral agreements with other nation-states.  The key point is that the Constitution shouldn't specify membership of any international organisation.

I am relaxed about proposals to require referenda for entering into or exiting such agreements when they surrender legislative powers to such organisations (the EU or other customs unions effectively do that, whereas defence and free trade agreements typically don't, as they still require ratification and don't hand over judicial authority to another body.  In effect, if a government breaches a free trade agreement or legislates over it, nothing can be done legally to stop this, although other states may impose sanctions, which is their sovereign right).

Rob G Apr 11, 2015

Just a quick question - why do you envisage Treaty amendments only needing to go through the secondary legislation route rather than a full Act of Parliament? In the case of the EU, changes such as the Single European Act were hugely transformative rather than modest tinkering, and arguably more significant than some other, new, Treaties the UK has signed up to... (I'm assuming the EU would count as an Alliance we were already party to.)

Scott Wilson Apr 11, 2015

This is only the domestic implementation of changes that are already within the domain of secondary legislation, were primary legislation already empowers the Executive to make regulations on the matter.  It is a jurisprudential point solely, you can't make regulations without primary legislation on the matter, so it would not occur for the Single European Act if it amended any part of that act.  If Parliament was unhappy about the extent of this, it could easily amend the scope of regulation making powers under any Act, so I don't believe the power of Parliament is curtailed if it no longer wishes to devolve certain administrative implementation decisions to the Executive.

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laure roux Apr 12, 2015

Thank you for your contribution. This refining phase is going very well. keep voting and contributing.