Example of a constitution preamble

“We, citizens of the world, anxious to give everyone a greater chance to flourish, proclaim our attachment to the principles of democracy”.

Declaration of the citizens’ rights and duties

1  Each citizen is sovereign. He/she places the common good above his/her personal interests. He/she gives up violence and entrusts the monopoly of coercion to the State. Conflicts of interests and opinions are solved through peaceful exchanges. The law is enforced within the legal frame and for legitimate reasons, duly ascertained.

2  Freedoms are an indivisible whole: the freedoms of thought, religion, expression, property, gift, union, reunion, creation, association as well as the freedoms to receive instruction, to work, circulate, exchange, contract and undertake. No one’s liberty can infringe on another person’s. No one can see their liberty limited on the mere presumption of an offending behavior.

3  The citizens participate in public life. They delegate their sovereignty through elections. Citizenship and participation in the public sphere are defined by law. Political choices are decided at the nearest possible level. Elected officials strive to reconcile what is to be wished for and what is possible. Parties propose orientations and select candidates. The polls aim at gathering a majority of citizens to support the common action. The head of government is accountable to nationally elected officials. The compensations due to the elected officials cannot be considered a salary rewarding a job. Information professionals check on the truthfulness of the knowledge and news that they broadcast.

4  The head of state embodies the national unity and the respect of the law. The prime function of the state is to lay down the laws. Representatives are not the absolute source of the law. Their judgment is enlightened in contradictory ways by independent experts, in no way connected to the power. The laws are the same for all. They can only forbid harmful acts. The nature of the penalties is defined by the law. Penalties are proportional to the seriousness of the offenses. No one can be submitted to torture or degrading treatments.

5  Justice ensures compliance with the law. Citizens can seek judicial redress after private conciliation procedures have failed. Magistrates are independent from political power. The state guarantees the permanence of its functions. Public employments are accessible to all. They are never held on a definitive basis. They are attributed to the conditions most advantageous for the Treasury. Public services abstain from fulfilling the tasks that citizens can fulfill through free association. The common use of activity can justify its public financing. Public aids do not imply the creation of a monopoly restricting the liberty of choice. They are granted in a transparent way and according to rules apt to safeguard everyone’s interest. The scope of public usefulness is defined by the law or by the territorial assemblies concerned.

6  The redistribution of the common riches is operated through the financing of the common charges. It takes into account each citizen’s contributory capacity. The citizen’s consent to taxation and public expense is through their representatives. The managers of public funds are bound to a principle of economy. They make sure to balance the expenses with the revenues. Leaving the current expenses to the charge of forthcoming generations is prohibited.

7  The criterion of fairness in the repartition of the common riches is the part taken by each in their production. If the sharing, even fair, is so unequal as to threaten concord, the State fills up the gaps in the sense of equality by virtue of the principle of equity. No one can be deprived of a good without proof of the public usefulness and a fair indemnity. When the rules of fairness and equity are not sufficient to guarantee dignity and a decent life to each person, the citizens must provide help. Aiding the handicapped is a common charge. If someone is deprived of their free will for lack of their faculties, the community will provide protection.

8  Each individual is the sole proprietor of his/her life and the master of his/her destiny. Private interests remain confined to the private sphere. The confrontation of private interests is through free contracts. The law respects the liberty of partners in their appreciation of the value of the goods exchanged. Price fixing of goods, services, and salaries is prohibited. Government employees are bound to a duty of confidentiality. The defense of government employees and employees of the private sector is assured through debates internal to the employing organizations.

9  Citizens insure themselves through thrift and mutual solidarity against the contingencies of life. The law protects society against the short-sightedness of too many people. The state guarantees access to healthcare for those that cannot take themselves in charge. The law sets the conditions in which valid persons benefiting from public aid are accountable to the community.

10  Democracy ideally supposes virtuous citizens. Families must make sure that their children receive an education. They are free to choose the religion in which they wish them to be brought up. The state fosters general access to instruction and to the understanding of the rules of life in a society. It shall not facilitate the task of enemies of democracy.

A declaration elaborated on the basis of Jean Baechler’s Précis of Democracy, published by Unesco in 1993.