[Draft] Charter of the South Pacific

I decided to try my hand at rewriting the Charter. I'm going through a minimalist phase, so I went with minimalism here, removing a lot of content and making references to constitutional law where most removed content would be located.

A few changes that probably wouldn’t escape notice:

  • I removed the Local Council and all provisions lated to consulting the gameside community. I don’t find them relevant, and if truly necessary then they could be added as constitutional or general law.

  • I did not add sessions or committees to the Assembly. I like both ideas, at least as concepts, but I don’t think they belong in the Charter. If necessary they could be added as constitutional or general law.

  • The Prime Minister has full responsibility for executive policy and appoints the Cabinet. It is also explicitly said that the PM has responsibility over foreign affairs, defence, and community development.

  • There is no mention of OWL or the appointment of advisors. I believe the PM could easily handle that through an executive order or, if truly necessary, then they could be added as constitutional or general law.

  • There is no mention of the Coral Guard, other than a mandate for the Security Council to establish a body similar to it. I don’t find it necessary to describe the Coral Guard in so much detail within the Charter.

  • There is no mention of the Special Forces. I don’t find it necessary to describe them within the Charter. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have law on it, I just don’t think that belongs in the Charter. If truly necessary, it could go in a constitutional law.

A final note. I didn’t write this with the expectation that it would be passed, nor did I consider how popular or unpopular any given added or removed provision would be. I just drafted the Charter as I would like it, and I’m presenting it as such. People can take all of it, part of it, or none of it. It’s all good, as long as it helps stimulate debate.


The Assembly of the South Pacific, representing our diverse community as organised under the Coalition, convenes to establish a fundamental law for the region, to uphold democratic principles and rights, and to provide for the security, welfare, and future development of our community.

I. Supremacy

  1. The Charter is the highest law of the region and holds supremacy over all other laws and regulations.

  2. Laws that form the foundation of the community and regulate fundamental aspects of regional governance may be marked as constitutional laws and, being so marked, hold precedence over all other laws and regulations.

II. Sovereignty

  1. The Coalition holds sole sovereignty over the South Pacific, viewed as the region and all venues that support its singular community.

  2. The Coalition cannot be dissolved, nor can its nature or structure be altered other than through the process provided by the Charter. No illegitimate invaders or usurpers will be recognised.

III. Rights and Freedoms

  1. Members of the South Pacific, who have joined the region in good faith, will enjoy the rights described in this section, but this list may not be read as to allow limits to the free exercise of other rights.

  2. To freedom of expression and speech, of the press, and to petition government officials, limited only by reasonable moderation policies.

  3. To not be ejected or banned without due process of law.

  4. To have a fair trial and exercise proper defence against criminal accusations before a court of law, to not be subject to bills of attained, to not be tried twice for the same crime, and to not be tried under ex post facto laws.

  5. To vote and hold public office, subject to reasonable restrictions prescribed in by law.

IV. The Assembly

  1. The Assembly is the supreme legislative authority of the Coalition.

  2. The Assembly is comprised of all members of the South Pacific who successfully applied for legislator status and have maintained that status with active participation and good behaviour.

  3. Legislators are admitted and removed by a commission of legislators that operates in a manner prescribed by law.

  4. The Assembly elects a legislator as Chair of the Assembly to maintain order and decorum, guide legislative debate, and administer the legislative process.

  5. The Chair may appoint and dismiss deputies, and delegate to them the duties of their office, at their own discretion.

  6. In the event that the Chair is resigns, loses legislator status, or is recalled, the Assembly will elect a new Chair in a manner prescribed by law.

V. The Delegate

  1. The Delegate is the head of state of the South Pacific, elected in a manner prescribed by law, and they will be the sole person allowed to hold the gameside seat of World Assembly Delegate.

  2. The Delegate is responsible for assisting in promoting the unity and growth of the region, upholding the security of the region, and performing those tasks that due to game mechanics cannot be performed by others.

VI. The Executive

  1. The Prime Minister is the head of government of the South Pacific and the leader of the Cabinet, elected in a manner prescribed by law.

  2. The Prime Minister is responsible for the setting, directing, and implementation of policy related to foreign affairs, defence, community development, and any other policy related to the furtherance of regional interests.

  3. The Prime Minister appoints ministers to assist in formulating and executing policy in the fields listed in the preceding clause, subject to approval from the Assembly in a manner prescribed by law.

  4. Ministers hold their offices for the duration of the executive term and at the pleasure of the Prime Minister or the Assembly, or until recall, resignation or loss of legislator status.

  5. Ministers may appoint and dismiss deputies, and delegate to them the duties of their office, at their own discretion.

  6. The Prime Minister may issue emergency orders to address immediate and pressing issues created by ambiguity or gaps in the law, but any such order will be reversed if the Assembly does not incorporate it into law within a week of its issuance.

VII. The High Court

  1. The High Court is the supreme judicial authority of the Coalition.

  2. The High Court is comprised of a number of Justices appointed and subject to approval from the Assembly in a manner prescribed by law.

  3. The High Court has exclusive authority over answering questions about the meaning of laws and regulations, reconciling contradictions of law, and voiding any law or regulation upon finding that it violates a superior law.

  4. The High Court should interpret the law without causing excessive disruption to the intended purposes of the law as originally written, provided that such interpretation does not lead to absurdity.

  5. The High Court has exclusive authority over indicting individuals and conducting criminal proceedings.

VIII. Regional Security

  1. The Security Council is comprised of members who have been legislators for at least six months, subject to appointment by the Council and approval from the Assembly in a manner prescribed by law.

  2. The Council is responsible for the oversight of regional security, the reception of relevant intelligence, the establishment and enforcement of an appropriate cap on endorsements, and the establishment of a line of succession for the delegacy.

  3. The Council is responsible for establishing, appointing, and directing the operations of a body of trusted nations with high numbers of endorsements, with further provisions prescribed by law or regulation.

  4. The Council may declare a state of emergency in the event of a coup d’état or invasion until such a time that a legitimate government is restored, and during that time it may take all measures necessary to defeat the coup d’état or invasion with the exception of impeding the business of the Assembly.

  5. The Council may suspend any of its members upon a conclusion by majority vote that they represent a threat to the security of the region. The Council reports its decision to the Assembly, with such action automatically triggering a recall.

IX. Accountability

  1. Officers of the Coalition are those whose position is subject to election or appointment subject to approval from the Assembly.

  2. Officers must be legislators who have not participated to any degree in a coup d’état against the Coalition or its allies, with the exclusion in regular military gameplay as part of an organised military. Officers in breach of this section automatically lose their office.

  3. Officers may be recalled by the Assembly in a manner prescribed by law, provided that recalls can only be brought due to dereliction of duty, abuse of power, or violations of the law.

  4. The effect of a recall is immediate removal from office.

X. Administration

  1. Administrators are responsible for the technical maintenance of the offsite forum, the regional chat, and related infrastructure, but will not be given any responsibilities of a political nature.

  2. Administrators have autonomy to conduct their own proceedings and manage the composition of their team the administration and moderation teams, provided that new administrators must secure the approval of a simple majority of the Assembly, and administrators and moderators may be removed by the High Court upon conviction for abuse of powers.

  3. Administrators must create standard administration and moderation policies. Any change to these policies must be presented to the Assembly for discussion for a period of one week before they take effect.

  4. Administrators appoint moderators to enforce moderation rules in the Regional Message Board, the offsite forum, the regional chat, and any other regional venue. Officers of the Coalition are ex officio moderators of the channels and categories related to their offices.

XI. Amendments

  1. The Assembly may amend this Charter or any constitutional law with a majority of three-fifths.

  2. The Assembly may convene a Great Council, with a simple majority, to significantly revise the laws of the region. A convening resolution must name a presiding officer, set rules of order and eligibility requirements, provided that all legislators at the time of convening must qualify as members.

  3. Great Councils can only be called once a year, unless in the intervening time the legitimacy of the Coalition has been challenged and the Assembly must reassert constitutional order.

  4. Great Councils may amend their convening resolution with a simple majority, but may not otherwise affect the normal functioning of the institutions of government.

  5. Great Councils adopt additions or changes to the Charter and constitutional law with a majority of three-fifths, and additions or changes to general law with a simple majority.

  6. Great Councils remain convened until a motion to adjourn sine die is adopted with a simple majority.

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Not a fan of the unitary executive but I otherwise like the slimmed down version.

A constitution should just set out guidelines with some bumpers and keep it simple. Plus it’d give the courts more time to figure out the meaning of things.

Do you have any particular thoughts on how the executive should be constituted?

For the most part, I like this. I’m a fan of the PM appointing their Cabinet, I think it makes far more sense than what we’ve been doing. At this point, there is very little downside risk to trying it out, and people already expect the PM to be the leader of the Cabinet, direct all policy, and enforce a unified agenda.

It’s broadly similar to what I would have proposed in other threads, though I tend to be more wordy. The idea of having Assembly sessions was just one part of an idea I had, not integral to the overall idea of decoupling Assembly membership from executive elections.

Obviously, we would need to do a lot of legal drafting, since this leaves most details to be set in acts of the Assembly. I think we’re likely to end the Great Council with the next couple weeks, though, so I’m hesitant to work on that unless the Assembly is actually willing to revamp everything. This is what I envisioned with the Great Council in the first place, but there was a bloc of others who recoiled at the idea of complete rewrites of our legal canon.

You’re tempting me.

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We could not.

I agree with you: this is what we wanted all along. But Roavin killed it and then ghosted. Sure, we sat around for months and did very little, but also if we build momentum via one good draft being posted, there’s reason to keep going

I’m not a huge fan of dragging things along, but I’ll happily aid in this if people want to do this.

Like others, I like the minimalist approach and agree with most of what we have here.

I just have a couple of comments:

  • While I agree there is no need to mention OWL in the Charter, the World Assembly is a pretty fundamental game mechanic. I would be inclined to add WA affairs to the PM’s list of responsibilities, unless the intention is to include it under “foreign affairs.”

  • The definition of “officers” as written would exclude justices and junior ministers, so that the power of recall by the Assembly would not automatically apply to them. It is possible that this could be rectified separately, in constitutional law, but it might be neater to widen the definition to encompass these individuals as well.

The reasoning was that the Charter should only mention those areas of responsibility that are fundamental to the operations of government, those being foreign affairs, defence, and community development. I also have a clause about "any other policy related to the furtherance of regional interests", which is where I think the World Assembly would fall.
Thank you for pointing this out. I intended Justices to be appointed with approval from the Assembly, but perhaps that is one item that does need to be stated in the Charter. I'll make the necessary change to reflect that.

I’m not sure if it makes much sense to have the Assembly recall deputies, considering that they are appointed by ministers and serve essentially at their pleasure. I’m open to the idea, if there is enough support, but my initial reaction is that it isn’t necessary.

While we’re talking about recalls, what are everyone’s thoughts about recalls vs motions of confidence? Do we think it would be convenient to expand the recall mechanism to consider political reasons for the Assembly to remove ministers?

I would think, if the assembly is the ultimate power, it should have the right to recall any elected or appointed officials. Just because a PM might like what a subordinate is doing, doesn’t mean the assembly would approve, and it’s far easier to replace a subordinate then a PM I’d think.

You are not wrong, but I would argue that there is a difference between a minister and a deputy. Under this draft the Assembly does have the power to recall ministers, it just doesn't have an explicit power to recall deputies. Why is that? My thinking is twofold:
  1. Recalls as a means of exercising political control, and that works primarily because it applies to the officials in charge of setting policy. A deputy does not set policy, they only implement it based on the directions of the minister.

  2. The Charter is meant to outline the fundamental workings of the government, and while it is fundamental to have the Assembly decide if it needs to remove principal officials, deputies can just be fired by ministers, or the Assembly could just remove the minister if they refuse to remove a deputy.

Alternatively, we could have a broader discussion on how we view the role of a deputy and whether it warrants being firewalled and recallable.

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I don’t think we should reintroduce political recalls. Our term lengths are short enough for people to take it to the ballot box at election time.

I do think, though, if we go to an appointed Cabinet, ministers would be serving at the pleasure of the PM. Aka the PM can dismiss them, reshuffle, etc.

You’re correct, I hadn’t taken in account term lengths, I do apologize.

Would reshuffling require an approval vote from the Assembly?

I would imagine so.

I took the liberty of preparing a list of possible laws that we may want to have, along with some bullet points of what could be included in each law, and a template for the Elections Act. I'm keeping with the theme of being minimalist and consolidating things. Obviously everyone will have differing views, but this could help continue the debate.

Constitutional Laws

  • Elections Act

An act to regulate the conduction of regional elections

1. General Provisions

(1) This law applies to all elections of government officials.

(2) This law is a constitutional law and has precedence over all general laws and regulations.

(3) This law considers the following terms:

  1. Election - the process through which a voter accedes to an office via suffrage, from the opening of declarations of candidacy until the certification of the result.
  2. Voter - a voter as defined in the Voter Registration Act, who additionally meets any added qualifications within this law.
  3. Office - any government position with the exception of voters.
  4. Conflict of Interest Disclosure - a list of all current and past aliases, affiliations, and offices held across NationStates by a candidate.
  5. Participation - the ability to declare one's candidacy and cast votes in a given election.
  6. Candidate - an individual who is listed on the ballot for an election or the option to re-open nominations.

2. Election Commissioner

(1) The Election Commissioner is a voter appointed by the Security Council to administer elections.

(2) The Commissioner is responsible for the publication of election notices and information, the organisation and moderation of the venues where the election is conducted, the verification of candidate eligibility, the tallying of votes, the certification of election results, and the resolution of election-related disputes or, when applicable, their referral to the relevant authorities.

(3) The Commissioner cannot hold the offices of Chair of the Assembly, Delegate, Prime Minister, Minister of the Cabinet, or any office that is subject to election, nor can they run for the office whose election they administer.

3. Election Methods

(1) Instant Runoff Vote is conducted with voters listing however many candidates they prefer, including an option to re-open nominations, in descending order of preference. Until a candidate has received a simple majority of first preferences, the candidate with the fewest first preferences is eliminated and the ballots are tallied again, ignoring any preferences for them.

(2) Approval Vote is conducted with voters listing however many candidates they approve or, alternatively, an option to re-open nominations, in no particular order of preference. Candidates with a simple majority of approvals are winners, in descending order of approvals obtained and ignoring the option to re-open nominations, until the required number of winners is reached or no winning candidates remain, whichever happens first.

(3) Majority Vote is conducted when voters list a single candidate whom they prefer or, alternatively, an option to re-open nominations. The candidate with a simple majority of votes is the winner. If no candidate obtains a simple majority and no tie has occurred, a runoff round of voting will be held with the two candidates who obtained the highest numbers of votes and without the option to re-open nominations unless it already qualifies for inclusion.

(4) Ties in elections under instant runoff vote are broken with the candidate with the fewest next level preferences being eliminated, until all levels of preference are exhausted. Ties in all other elections or in cases where other tie-breaking methods have been exhausted, will be resolved by mutual agreement between the candidates or via a method of chance determined by the Commissioner, provided that such a method must be publicly observable and use resources not controlled by either candidate or the Commissioner.

(5) If the option to re-open nominations wins, the election shall revert to declarations to elect the number of winners that remained unelected.

(6) Voters in offsite elections must have the option of casting public or private ballots, but ballots cannot be altered once cast. Ballots cast in private must be sent to a group inbox accessible only to the Commissioner, which should remain available for audit. The identity of private voters cannot be revealed.

3. Election Procedures

(1) Elections for all offices, unless otherwise provided within this law, are conducted in such a manner that declarations of candidacy extend for four days and voting extends for three days from the end of declarations or the previous round of voting, as may be the case. Candidates must submit an accurate conflicts of interest disclosure before the end of declarations under penalty of disqualification. Voting, unless otherwise provided within this law, is limited to voters who were admitted before the start of declarations and is conducted via instant runoff vote.

(2) Elections for all offices, unless otherwise provided within this law, must begin no latter than seven days after the occurrence of a vacancy unless the same occurred when less than half of the term remains, in which case the vacancy is filled in the following manner:

  1. For the Chair of the Assembly, the most senior Deputy Chair of the Assembly becomes Chair for the remainder of the term. If none is available or willing, the most senior legislator by date of admission who is willing acts as Chair for the remainder of the term.
  2. For the Delegate, the next in line, according to the line of succession set by the Security Council, becomes Delegate for the remainder of the term.
  3. For the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Cabinet select one of their own to become Prime Minister for the remainder of the term, subject to approval from the Assembly.
  4. For other offices, the Prime Minister selects a successor, provided that such individual should be otherwise eligible to stand for election, subject to approval from the Assembly.

(2) Elections for the Chair of the Assembly begin on the first of January and July and are conducted via approval vote with a single winner. Participation is limited to voters who were admitted to the Assembly before the start of declarations.

(3) Elections for the Delegate begin on the first of January and July and are conducted via a first round of approval vote with two winners and a second round via of majority vote, without a period for declarations of candidacy and without an option to re-open nominations provided that voting for the second round is held via a regional poll limited to Native World Assembly Residents and posting on the Message Board with a tag to the Commissioner limited to members of the Special Forces identified by the Minister of Defence as being deployed during voting. Candidates in the first round will be all incumbent members of the Security Council and the Coral Guard who are not impeded due to conflicts of interest or have explicitly required to not be considered must have a number of endorsements no lower than 80% of the general endorsement cap at the start of the election. Candidates in the second round will be are the winners from of the first round.

(4) Elections for the Prime Minister begin on the first of January, April, July, and October.

  • Appointments Act

  • Regional Security Act

    • States of Emergency
    • Proscriptions
  • Legislative Procedure Act

    • Debate Times (minimum of 3 days across the board)
    • Required Majorities (60% for the Charter and constitutional laws, 50% for all other votes)
    • Committees (established by the Chair)
    • Absence of the Chair
    • Drafting Standards (formatting standards)
  • Voter Registration Act

    • Requirements (open to legislators, government staff, and RP map users)
    • Activity Requirements (minimum requirements so institutions can’t make requirements too liberal)
    • Authorities (LegCom successor, individual institution leaders)

General Laws

  • Accountability Act

    • Periodic Government Reports
    • Sunshine Provisions
    • Legal Deadlines (time conversion)
  • Foreign Affairs Act

    • Diplomats (role of the PM and the MoFA as chief diplomats)
    • Treaties (negotiation, passage, repeal, place in the hierarchy of laws)
    • World Assembly (decision of votes on proposals and resolutions)
  • Defence Act

    • Special Forces (establishment, civilian and operational leadership)
    • Defending (principles, forbidden actions in operations)
  • Gameside Powers Act

    • Regional Officers (appointment, removal, use of powers)
    • Communications (mass telegrams, WFE, dispatch pins, misuse of public resources)
    • Border Control
  • Criminal Code

    • Crimes
    • Sentences (ejection and ban for treason, at the discretion of the Court for all other crimes)
  • Judicial Procedure Act

    • Justices (appointment process, Chief Justice, oath of office)
    • Cases (standing, justiciability, scope of rulings)
    • Injunctions
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So reading this, and it looks good Kris, I noticed we have an Oath of Office for justice. Do we have one for other offices?

I remember the Cabinet did oaths of office at one point, but Justices are the only ones who are required by law to swear an oath.

Ya! I intended to spill the beans on all the secret court stuff, but now I can’t!

Had I known that I would have to say some weird oath, cut my hand and mix our justice blood, swear the oath again on a copy of the charter, did a pagan ritual, and finally had to chug a pitcher of SPIT in 30 seconds or less to make my tenure on the Court legal, I would have done it sooner! :wink: