Palikir, POHNPEI(4th FSM Con-Con 03/24/20)- On Monday, March 23, 2020, the President of the 4th FSM Constitutional Convention RedleyKillion and the Convention Secretary Kapilly Capelle officially transmitted to the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, His Excellency David W. Panuelo the two proposed constitutional amendments the Convention adopted prior to recessing due to the World Health Organization’s declaration of a pandemic due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Constitutional Emergency Order No. 20-01, issued by Pohnpei State Governor, the Honorable Reed B. Oliver, declaring a state of emergency for the State of Pohnpei in response to the imminent threat of COVID-19.
The Fourth FSM Constitutional Convention went on recess on March 13th to insure the health and safety of the Delegates and staff of the Fourth FSM Constitutional Convention. The Convention will reconvene subject to the call of the Convention President when the pandemic has ended, and it is once again safe to hold large meetings.
Before it went into recess, the Convention adopted two proposed constitutional amendments. The first proposed amendment adopted by the Convention would amend Article XIV, Section 1 of the FSM Constitution. This is the provision in the Constitution that sets out the number of votes required to approve an amendment to the Constitution. Over the past 40 years, there have been 43 proposed amendments. Only 4 of these proposed amendments were approved. The Delegates to the Constitutional Convention believe that the very high number of votes currently required has prevented important amendments from being adopted and thus, it was important to address this issue first.
The Constitution, which is the document the FSM National Government is governed by, must provide stability to our government. But, the Constitution must be able to address changing conditions in our ever changing world. The Delegates determined that reducing the required number of votes to approve an amendment to the Constitution from 3/4 of the votes cast in 3/4 of the states to 2/3 of the votes cast in 3/4 of the states would provide stability and protect the smaller states while still allowing for necessary change.
Because the number of votes needed to approve a constitutional amendment impacts all proposed amendments, the Convention adopted a resolution requesting His Excellency President David W. Panuelo to call for a special election on the proposed amendment to Article XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia so that if approved, the new requirement of 2/3 of the votes cast in 3/4 of the states will be used to determine if sufficient votes were cast in each state to approve other proposed amendments adopted by the Convention.
The second proposed amendment adopted by the Convention would amend Article III of the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia which sets out the requirements for citizenship. The Delegates heard from a number of citizens who had lost their FSM citizenship because they did not know they had to renounce their citizenship in a foreign country, they could not afford to renounce their citizenship, or it was impossible to comply with the renunciation requirements of the current Section 3 of Article III. The Delegates believed that it is necessary to restore FSM citizenship to those who lost their citizenship through no fault of their own.
The proposed amendment adopted by the Convention will (1) allows a FSM Citizen who satisfies Section 2 of the FSM Constitution to hold dual citizenship. According to Section 2, a person born of parents one or both of whom are citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia is a citizen and national of the Federated States of Micronesia by birth. (2) restore FSM citizenship to those who lost their citizenship because they failed to renounce their citizenship of a foreign country. (3) provide a pathway for FSM citizens who knowingly renounced their FSM citizenship to restore their FSM citizenship by meeting such requirements as Congress may provide by law, and (4) remove sections of Article III for which there are no longer any persons eligible to claim FSM citizenship.
The Convention has not yet concluded its work. The Convention is still considering proposed amendments on revenue sharing, popular election of the President, a clean environment and climate change, the determination of land ownership under state law, and reserved seats in Congress for women. The Convention will address these and other proposals when it continues its work after the pandemic.
The Delegates to the Convention have returned home to be with their families during this time of national and international emergency.