Colonial and Post-Colonial Constitutionalism in the Commonwealth: Peace, Order and Good Government

Hakeem Yusuf

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The peace, order and good government (POGG) clause, is a constitutional power which, notwithstanding its imperial origins, has remained considerably resilient. It has played a significant role in colonial and post-colonial constitutionalism in Commonwealth jurisdictions and remained, with few exceptions, in almost all Commonwealth for over a century in some cases. One of the last decisions of the British House of Lords, R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs highlights the significance of a surviving power crafted in a pre-democratic age. This book is the first full-length analysis of the various dimensions of the POGG clause. The origins of the POGG clause mark it out as an anachronistic feature of British Commonwealth constitutionalism when set against contemporary human rights, liberty and democracy. This study traces the history, politics and applications of the clause through the colonial period in Commonwealth territories to date. It provides critical evaluation of the POGG clause in a cross-continental enquiry which examines its statutory, political and constitutional application in Australia, Canada, India, Nigeria, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Critical analysis of the POGG clause presents a paradox. There is, on the one hand, the deployment of the POGG clause to promote (presumably) liberal democratic values of (even if, initially, limited) self-government, consociation of elite power and public welfare. The POGG clause has relevance in a number of significant aspects of legal and socio-political ordering across the Commonwealth featuring prominently in the federalism question, emergency powers and the review of administrative powers. On the other hand, there is the use of the clause to further not only the objects of colonialism, but also authoritarianism and apartheid. The paradox of the POGG clause is in large part a product of the imperial origins of the power which links up with its prevailing interpretation of as broad, if not virtually unlimited power of legislation. The author closely examines the interpretations of the POGG clause and challenges the prevailing interpretation of it. Shining new light on the origins, early applications and interpretations of the POGG clause, the author argues that there is a widely assumed but mistaken originalist foundation of the prevailing interpretation of the clause. This book makes a case for rethinking the application and judicial interpretation of the clause.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages262
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Constitutional Law


  • colonialism
  • post-colonial constitutionalism
  • commonwealth legal history
  • Peace, order and good government
  • commonwealth constitutionalism
  • constitutional law


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