A new Constitution for the Falkland Islands came into operation on 1 January 2009. It was agreed by the UK Government and the Falkland Islands Government. The Falkland Islands Constitution Order 2008 was made on 5 November 2008 by Her Majesty the Queen in the Privy Council.
The Falklands have developed considerably both economically and socially since the previous Falkland Islands’ Constitution came in to operation in 1985, and the current Constitution reflects this. The Islanders’ right to determine their own future through self-determination is embedded in the Constitution. The Constitution enhances local democracy, while retaining sufficient powers for the UK Government to protect UK interests and to ensure the overall good governance of the territory. It provides for transparency and accountability through the creation of a Public Accounts Committee and a Complaints Commissioner.
The Constitution makes clear Councillors’ responsibility for most domestic policies and that, in general, the Governor has to abide by the advice of the Executive Council on such matters. But the Constitution also enshrines a power for the Governor not to act upon Executive Council’s advice “in the interests of good governance”, or in relation to external affairs, defence, internal security (including the police), the administration of justice, audit, and management of the public service.
Other important changes included: recognition given to the Chief Executive as head of the public service, but under the authority and direction of the Governor; falling in line with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights. There were also some changes to who has Falkland Islands Status (which brings with it the right to vote) through the Constitution.
The previous Falkland Islands Constitution had been in force since 1985 (amended in 1997), a review of the current Constitution is being undertaken during the current Assembly through a Select Committee process.