The Persistence of Colonial Constitutionalism in British Overseas Territories

Yusuf, Hakeem O. and Chowdhury, Tanzil (2019). The Persistence of Colonial Constitutionalism in British Overseas Territories. Global Constitutionalism, 8(1) pp. 157–190.



This article argues that despite the UK Government’s exaltations of self-determination of its Overseas Territories, provisions of colonial governance persist in their constitutions. Further, it posits that such illustrations begin to answer the broader question of whether British Overseas Territories (BOTs) are modern day colonies. Such claims are not without merit given that 10 out of the 14 BOTS are still considered Non-Self-Governing Territories by the United Nations and have remained the target of decolonisation efforts. Drawing insights from post-colonial legal theory, this article develops the idea of the persistence of colonial constitutionalism to interrogate whether structural continuities exist in the governance of the UK’s British Overseas Territories. The analysis begins to unravel the fraught tensions between constitutional provisions that advance greater self-determination and constitutional provisions that maintain the persistence of colonial governance. Ultimately, the post-colonial approach foregrounds a thoroughgoing analysis on whether BOTs are colonies and how such an exegesis would require particular nuance that is largely missing in current institutional and non-institutional articulations of, as well as representations on, the issue.

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