Chile’s Constitution

Social and Ecological Justice
A proposed national constitution, written collectively by over 150 people representing diverse backgrounds and perspectives, calling for widespread legal, economic, social, and ecological reform, including the recognition of the rights of nature


Chile’s current constitution was written during Augusto Pinochet’s right-wing dictatorship in 1980 and has not been replaced. The country’s new, left-wing leader Gabriel Boric came to power in 2022 promising a new constitution, which was to be co-written with a convention of 154 democratically elected members. Most of these members were independent politicians, and a large number of them were leftists, feminists, environmentalists, and advocates of Indigenous groups. 78% of voters approved Boric’s suggestion to rewrite the constitution in a referendum held in 2020.1Maria Contesse, ‘Why We Failed to Approve the New Chilean Constitution | LSE Latin America and Caribbean’. LSE Latin America and Caribbean Blog (blog), 15 September 2022 <> [accessed 5 November 2023].


The constitutional convention drafted a document containing 388 articles which drew on their breadth of perspectives and expertise. Written by and for people outside the traditional political sphere, with the wellbeing of an array of social sectors, minority groups, and natural habitats in mind, the constitution was acclaimed the world over for its far-reaching ecological and social foresight.2Contesse, ‘Why We Failed to Approve’.

The constitution emphasises the rights of nature, its first article stating that it “recognises as intrinsic and absolute” the “dignity, freedom and substantive equality of human beings and their indissoluble relationship with nature”.3International IDEA, DRAFT Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile, July 2022 <> [accessed 15 November 2022]. Any business enterprise and scientific development, the constitution warns, must also “be developed according to the bioethical principles of solidarity, cooperation, and responsibility, and with full respect for human dignity, animal sentience, nature’s rights”.4International IDEA, DRAFT Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile The constitution stresses the importance of Chile’s Indigenous nations, and their rights to land, self-determination, cultural heritage, and linguistic independence. Other social rights include those regarding education, health, housing, and gender equality. In sum, the constitution takes an eco-intersectional approach to understand people and planet as a symbiotic or holistic system.

When it came to the vote concerning the adoption or rejection of the constitution, 62% of Chileans voted against it. People have speculated about the reasons for this rejection, citing the fact that the constitution was overly complex and long, that its contents were damaged by fake news on social media ahead of the vote, and that most private donations were given to the constitution rejection campaign.5Another factor was voter turnout, which increased for the constitution vote, but brought more new voters who rejected the constitution than those who approved it. Time will tell whether the constitution’s re-drafted iteration will uphold the values of solidarity, ecocentrism, democratic and representational governance, and territorial autonomy that make the first draft so extraordinary.