Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Tsering Kheyap


In 1991, the Tibetan Government in Exile adopted the Tibetan Constitution. This is a living document that is widely recognized by the Tibetan community inside Tibet and those living in exile. Since its adoption, it has been amended eleven times and successfully provides for the democratic elections of exile leaders.

This Note argues that formal and informal international recognition of the importance and potential value of this document can help secure environmental and political stability, effective communication and democratic development throughout the region. In order for the Tibetan Constitution to achieve international acceptance as the legitimate governing document of the exile community, there must be a dialogue about this document and its symbolic and practical significance. This Note analyzes the Tibetan Constitution's local and global claims of legitimacy. This Note also discusses international influences on the document's structure and content and highlights the uniquely Tibetan provisions.

While international recognition of the status of Tibet and the documents created by Tibetans is important, the Tibetan Constitution was not created simply to achieve this goal. Rather, it is a useful and real document that serves Tibetans in exile. In addition, Tibetans living under occupation in Tibet can take solace in the work of their countrymen outside of Tibet to strengthen international support for their cause. With the hope of increased international recognition of the Tibetan Constitution as the legitimate ruling document for Tibet, Tibetans living at home and abroad hold onto hope for a free Tibet