Political Insurance for the Poor: Liberal Constitutionalism and Extreme Inequality

Constitutional directives—normative directives addressed to the state found in several constitutions—range from obliging the state to reduce material inequality, secure universal access to education, promote indigenous culture, protect the environment, and so on. On a conservative count, at least 31 constitutions around the world feature ‘directive principles’ (identified as such). Counts based on the structural features (rather than mere formal labels) find over 140 constitutions with provisions that would qualify. This paper builds upon the nascent scholarship in this area to propose a general theoretical account of constitutional directives. The paper offers a historical, structural and functional account of constitutional directives. Understanding constitutional directives is essential for a proper appreciation of political constitutionalism, especially in several postcolonial jurisdictions—hence the significance of this paper.