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What is a Constitution in Modern Times?

Preamble to the Constitution - Part 1

The Oxford Dictionary defines a Constitution as “the principles to which a country is organized”.  This is in fact an accurate albeit basic definition.

In fact a cursory look at our constitution endorses the definition.  The various parts of our constitution explain the roles of the Governor, the Legislative Assembly, the Executive, the role of the Attorney General and a number of other miscellaneous issues.  This brings me to my first question, shouldn’t’ a constitution reflect more?

In considering the question, my thoughts drift to my days as a junior attorney when I reviewed the constitutions and bye-laws of churches, service clubs and other charities.   In each case, I recall that the first thing my attention was drawn to was the objectives or aspirations of the organization.  Some of them desired to make tangible changes, such as reducing the amount of litter in the street, whilst others were largely aspirational, such as improving mankind.  However, no matter how many applications crossed my desk the message was the same…an expression of what the organization hoped to achieve.

It is this analogy that brings me back to our constitution.  Does it reflect the identity of the Caymanian people? Does it present our goals and aspirations to the world at large? Does it express our relationship with our elected representatives? Does it express how the United Kingdom as our administering power protects our interests?

The constitutions of many countries are introduced by setting out the hopes desires of a nation in its preamble.  For example, our neighbour to the north, the United States of America begins its constitution with a preamble that states “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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.”

Similarly, the constitution of our Caribbean neighbour and fellow British Overseas Territory, the British Virgin Islands, acknowledges the islands’ unique cultural identity and the fact that the society is based on certain moral, spiritual and democratic values.  The preamble also establishes the desire of the British Virgin Islanders wish to have increased control over the affairs of their country and the United Kingdom’s desire to enter into a modern partnership with the Virgin Islands based on the principles of mutual respect and self determination.

Now that we have an opportunity to draft our own preamble, what do you think it should say? The draft 2003 Cayman Islands Constitution contains a preamble.  To see what was agreed in 2003 log onto and go to the resources page, Constitutional Review 2002 link.  To provide the Secretariat with feedback on what you think our preamble should say, e-mail us at or fax us at 946-4023 or schedule an appointment by calling 244-3603.  Let’s Start Shaping Our Future Together!

Last Updated: 2007-07-17