Constitution Building After Conflict: External Support to a Sovereign Process
Author: International IDEA
Size: 24 pages (495 kB)
This paper examines the challenges and nuances of external support to constitution building, which can, it argues, be both constructive and problematic. It calls for a restrained approach to such support, based on 'invitation points' rather than 'entry points'. The quality of the process used is crucial to successful constitutional design, and the choice of process needs to be left to national actors.
Constitution building refers to processes for negotiating, drafting and implementing constitutions. It has no widely shared definition, but implies: a) founding new structures as well as re-developing existing ones as part of an ongoing process; b) developing and adding long-term value to governance and the political system; and c) including many actors. It also means taking a long-term perspective and following an overall aim or design for the 'social contract'.
Many constitutions are framed following conflict. However, constitutional processes can also be driven by the problems arising from poverty and inequality and the demand for self-determination. The protests in North Africa and the Middle East are examples of the type of 'unknown' political shift that might engender new constitution building.
Constitution building is a complex political process that forms part of wider transitions to democracy and peace. It involves steps and sequences, and is not necessarily linear. The particular actors involved at a given time will depend on the sequencing and the stage reached. Additional findings include the following:
Both constitution building and support to constitution building from external actors need to be locally driven. External actors need to moderate their ambitions and develop guidance for the implementation of 'national ownership'. Additional implications include the following:
International IDEA, 2011, 'Constitution Building After Conflict: External Support to a Sovereign Process', Policy Paper, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Stockholm
Organisation: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, http://www.idea.int/