Topic:Diversity, Electoral Systems, Governance, Inclusion, Language Policy
This policy brief was produced with the generous financial support of Global Affairs
Canada and produced by the Forum of Federations through the Supporting Decentralized
and Inclusive Governance in the Philippines Program. The views expressed here are those
of the author and do not reflect the views of the Canadian Government.
In virtually every country, the diversity of the population has an impact on how governments
function and on the laws and policies they adopt. Relevant dimensions of diversity include
gender, race, language, religion and ethnocultural background. Any of these can be the
basis for political mobilization and lead to pressures for stronger representation for those
with salient characteristics and for their inclusion in the institutions and processes of
governance. Opportunities to advance these objectives are often greater in countries where
governance is shared, particularly those with a federal or devolved form of government.
Moreover, such systems can allow for constitutional and institutional variation in response
to the differing conditions and priorities of regions and communities.
There are numerous avenues to recognize diversity and promote inclusion. This note
surveys some of the most significant means that governments have adopted, or could
adopt, to further these objectives. In the following section, the following approaches are
� federalism and devolution
� constitutional recognition of key aspects of diversity
� protection of human rights and anti-discrimination measures
� recognition of official languages and service provision
� electoral system and process
� intercultural activities.
The survey of potential approaches begins with constitutional provisions and proceeds to
less fundamental policy instruments such as ordinary laws and government programs.
This note is a thought piece,1 and it should not be seen as recommending any of the
options reviewed below. Rather, the intent is to demonstrate that, when constitutional or
government reform is being considered in diverse societies, a range of options is available
for discussion and potential adaptation