Articles of the Union, also known simply as "The Articles", is the constitution of the Baltic Union. Adopted in 2075 upon formal establishment of the Union, the Articles have since remained effective with minimal revision or amending.
The Articles are markedly different from earlier pre-Great War constitutions with their simplicity and brevity. Since the founders of the Baltic Union were for most part career soldiers with no formal education in law, and hardly any legal experts from before the war survived, the legal system of the Union consequently had to be created anew from ground up.
The Colonels made a deliberate break with the legal traditions of the past, believing that the overcomplicated legal system, terminology and bureaucracy had no place in the new world. They felt that the new laws should deliberately be kept simple and written in a language understandable to everyone, to be upheld in spirit rather than letter and prevent wrongdoers from weaseling their way out of trouble through exploiting legal technicalities and loopholes. Consequently, the Articles and all derivative laws would be composed in a brief and easily memorized form, so that every citizen could learn them and know his rights and duties.
The preamble of the Articles defines the Baltic Union and its purpose as "a union of safe zone communities within the historical borders of the former Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania" created "to secure the survival, continuity, prosperity and sovereignity of the Baltic peoples" and "to prevent a repetition of history where foreign powers would subjugate, oppress and attempt to extirpate the people of Baltic nations".
The preamble further specifies that the Union's form of government shall be a "militarized meritocracy free of partisan affiliations", effectively organizing the entire government bureaucracy along the lines of military hierarchy. The preamble also declares the Union's commitment to total defense, "the sacrosanct duty of every citizen being to resist attempts of foreign domination, oppression and tyranny in every form" and "to make every effort to prepare for this duty". The preamble goes on to establish the Union's adamant opposition to imperialism and wars of aggression.
Rights and duties defined in the Articles
The Articles are notable in that they specify the duties expected of Baltic citizens in exchange for protecting and upholding the rights granted therein. Rights granted under the Articles aren't inalienable - failure to carry out one's duty will result in the forfeiture of rights, the exact degree depending on the offense.
The general spirit of the rights and duties section of the Articles is "freedom tempered by discipline". While citizens are granted considerable personal liberty, the Articles make it clear that this freedom may be restricted in order to protect national security and interests, social cohesion and good moral standards. There is notably no provision for freedom of speech, as it is specified within the duties section that "a citizen shall refrain from promoting views and ideas and making statements and comments that undermine state authority, public morale, social harmony and moral decency, in word, writing or deed", the penalties for subversive expression ranging from a simple fine to outlawry, depending on intent and harm done. While citizens are free to discuss all including the most outrageous and unpatriotic ideas as theoretical concepts, actual promotion of any such ideas is expressly forbidden.
Citizens also have a sacrosanct duty to resist oppression with every means available and constantly maintain their readiness to do so. In practice it translates to a total militarization of society, to the point that every Balt is taught personal combat, tactics and methods of armed and unarmed resistence at school from an early age. This serves both to keep enemies away and the Union's own military-political elite in line, a universally-armed and trained population making Baltic politicians very careful about adopting policies that might be seen as infringing on people's liberties and interests.
Certain other rights enshrined in other constitutions of the past are absent as well. For example, the concept of reproductive rights has been explicitly rejected by the Articles, which enshrine the principles of eugenics and state that procreation is a privilege to be reserved for the "fit and worthy". Those who are deemed fit and worthy in turn have a duty to procreate and instill their offspring with proper patriotic virtues and mindset.
There are likewise no provisions for minority rights of any kind, there being only citizens of the Union and everybody else, with those in the "everybody else" category only being granted basic rights and protections "as required by common sense of justice and decency". The state likewise does not endorse, nor permit formal endorsment or promotion of "deviant and unproductive lifestyles", this paragraph referring particularly to the LGBT people. While citizens with such inclinations are not persecuted in any manner by the state, neither can they expect any recognition from the authorities. The general rule pertaining to "sexual deviants" is that their preferences are none of anybody's concern as long as they carry out their civic duty to have a spouse and produce children.
Overall, while quite restrictive by pre-war standards, the Articles generally stand out as very reasonable in a world where similar constitutions are either non-existent, openly flouted or conversely taken to extremes.