Constitutional recognition: French perspective

Clara Goutaudier


The Constitution of France is based on principles from the 1789 revolution, stating in its first article that it is an “indivisible republic” and that it “ensures the equality before the law of all citizens without distinction of origin, race or religion.” Growing up in such a unitary country (as opposed to multicultural), it was hard for me to completely grasp the idea of recognition of indigenous groups, of ethnic or cultural minorities. Yet, France recently recognised the existence of such local groups in territories outside the mainland – for instance, New-Caledonia. It mostly refers to memorial issues, reflecting on “the shadows of colonial times”, and further affirmative action. This draws on the concept of the ‘right to recognition’ theorised by Le Pourhiet (2014), with objective principles of cultural diversity and the grant of collective rights to more vulnerable groups.

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