Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Mathew W. Pile

First Page



On October 3, 1990, West and East Germany officially united. Although several unification methods were possible, the unification occurred by East Germany acceding to the West German Constitution--the Basic Law--through a series of treaties. This "treaty route" to unification necessarily required amendments to the Basic Law.

The primary unification instrument, the Treaty on the Establishment of German Unity, detailed the Basic Law amendments that were immediately essential to effectuating unification. The treaty, however, also contemplated additional Basic Law amendments arising from the consequences of unification. In fact, in the ten years following German unification, the German legislature passed six Basic Law amendments that directly addressed unification issues.

This Note analyzes the unification amendments to the Basic Law, identifying both the positive and the negative constitutional effects of German unification. The Note organizes these constitutional effects into a Constitutional Model of German Unification. The Constitutional Model of German Unification: (1) identifies and explains the constitutional characteristics of unification, (2) proposes constitutional recommendations for future unifying States, and (3) predicts the content of future unification amendments to the Basic Law.