Inferring mechanisms for global constitutional progress

Nat Hum Behav. 2018 Aug;2(8):592-599. doi: 10.1038/s41562-018-0382-8. Epub 2018 Aug 6.


Constitutions help define domestic political orders, but are known to be influenced by international mechanisms that are normative, temporal and network based. Here we introduce the concept of the 'provision space'-the set of all legal provisions existing across the world's constitutions, which grows over time. We make use of techniques from network science and information retrieval to quantify and compare temporal and network effects on constitutional change, which have been the focus of previous work. Furthermore, we propose that hierarchical effects-a set of mechanisms by which the adoption of certain constitutional provisions leads to or facilitates the adoption of additional provisions-are also crucial. These hierarchical mechanisms appear to play an important role in the emergence of new political rights, and may therefore provide a useful roadmap for advocates of those rights.