What is a Constitution?

A Constitution is the supreme law of a country. It sets out the basic principles by which the citizens agree to be governed. It is the framework for governance and embodies the collective values and aspirations of the people. It defines the structure, authorities and duties of governmental offices and the limits of their powers. It guarantees certain fundamental rights to each person and serves to guide the nation towards justice, equality, and the pursuit of the common good.

The Trinidad & Tobago Constitution

The Republican Constitution of 1976 replaced the Independence Constitution of 1961 which was, in many respects, based on the constitutional arrangements of the United Kingdom. It is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in fundamental human rights and freedoms, the position in society of a free people and free institutions, the dignity of the human person, and the equal and inalienable rights with which people are endowed by their Creator.

How the Constitution may be amended

The Parliament makes (and amends) laws for the peace, order and good governance of the country. The Constitution includes mechanisms for its amendment. The process for amending the constitution varies depending on specific provisions outlined within the Constitution:

  • Some sections can be amended by a simple majority in Parliament.
  • Entrenched sections require a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
  • Deeply entrenched sections require a majority of three-quarters in the House of Representatives and two-thirds in the Senate.

What is Constitutional Reform?

Reform refers to the process of making significant changes or amendments to the Constitution. This process typically involves reviewing and updating various aspects of the Constitution, such as its structure, provisions, and mechanisms for governance. Such changes are often complex and may require a comprehensive review of the Constitution. The process also often involves extensive consultation with stakeholders, including government officials, civil society organizations, legal experts, and the public.

Attend a Community Outreach Event

The National Advisory Committee
on Constitutional Reform wants to hear your thoughts on constitutional reform..