Lessons Learned from Support to Constitution-Building Processes

Since the early 1990s at least two thirds of the states of the world have made new constitutions or substantially altered existing ones. The context for much of this wave of constitution making is extremely challenging: states may be emerging from authoritarianism; women and minority groups have often been marginalised; there are deep cleavages in some state communities, sometimes giving rise to violent conflict. To add to these challenges, the new constitutions sought to be made are often ambitious, seeking transformative social and economic change as well as democratisation and peace.

This wave of constitution building is also characterised by extensive support from other countries, international organisations, NGOs, and other external actors. Over time, external support has led to the emergence of a cohort of professionals with experience in multiple constitution building and peace building processes.

The aim of this project is to draw on the wide knowledge and experience of those actively involved in constitution-building to better understand the most effective forms of external support to constitution building. Using methodologies developed by CTN through the Melbourne Forum on Constitution Building and other projects, this study will map the function, form and purposes of external support to constitution building and to identify the factors that contribute to or hinder its effectiveness.

This research is commissioned by the Expert Group for Aid Studies, a government committee mandated to independently evaluate and analyse Sweden's international development assistance. CTN convenors Cheryl Saunders and Anna Dziedzic are working on this project in partnership with Andy Carl, an adviser and researcher on peace building, and Johanna Lindström and Samantha Smith from Kantar Public in Sweden.