Cognitive justice, plurinational constitutionalism and post-colonial peacebuilding
Bagu, Kajit J
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Several problems disquieting the developing world render the post-colonial state unstable, with recurrent, often violent conflict. The seeming incurable vulnerability of the nation-state construct reflects inherent problems in its basic constitutional philosophy for managing diverse identities in the global South. It suggests an incapacity for equality and justice, undermining the moral legitimacy of the colonial-state model. This is illustrated using Central Nigeria or Nigeria’s ‘Middle- Belt’ through numerous identities, largely veiled in non-recognition and misrecognition by the colonial and post-colonial state and its conflicts. The baggage of colonialism stalks the developing world through unjust socio-political orders. Therefore, the post-colonial liberal constitution (using Nigeria’s 1999 Federal Constitution) and mechanisms it imbibes for managing diversity (Consociationalism, Federalism/Federal Character, Human Rights, Citizenship), is exposed to be seriously misconceived epistemically and cartographically. I argue that effective peacebuilding in the global South is impossible without Cognitive Justice, which is 'the equal treatment of different forms of knowledge and knowers, of identities’. I articulate a political constitutional philosophy grounded upon Cognitive Justice as a conception of justice, advancing normative and conceptual frameworks for just post-colonial orders. This provides foundations for a proposed reconceptualisation and restructuring of the institutional and structural make-up of the post-colonial state through a ground-up constitution remaking process, for new orders beyond colonially stipulated delimitations. In search of appropriate constitutional designs, I engage Multiculturalism, National Pluralism and Plurinational State scholarship by Western Political Philosophers and Constitutional Theorists (Kymlicka, Taylor, Tully, Keating, Tierney, Norman, Anderson, and Requejo etc), as they address particularly the UK, Canadian and Spanish cases, as well as Awolowo’s philosophies. I also engage recent plurinational constitutional designs operational in Ecuador and Bolivia, and propose that the latter hold more appropriate conceptual and structural pointers for effective peacebuilding in the troubled, pluralist global South.