Constitutions are the foundations of many democracies but poorly designed constitutions can increase discord and conflict.
Constitutional change is a central feature of democratic transition, democratic consolidation and conflict management. Yet, there is still relatively little comparative knowledge available for constitution-makers to rely on. This is a critical issue because constitution-makers are usually thrust suddenly into the spotlight without prior training or preparation and must learn quickly, as the consequences at stake are critical to the future of their country.
International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Programme fills this gap by providing knowledge and direct assistance in the area of constitutional transitions, with regards to the processes through which constitutions are made, and the design of the constitution. Our approach emphasizes the importance of national ownership and adapting, not adopting, comparative practice to the specific national context.
The Constitution-Building Programme has four main areas of work:
- Acting as a thought-leader and convener in the constitution-building field
- Providing in-country technical advice and capacity building
- Offering research services and access to comparative information
- Supporting constitution-building processes in post-conflict setting
1. Acting as a thought-leader and convener in the constitution-building field
International IDEA operates the largest specialized knowledge generation programme in the area of constitution-building, making the organization a recognized thought-leader and convener in the field. International IDEA uses this status to convene regional and global meetings of experts and practitioners, to bring together organizations working in the field for coordination and information sharing, and to support regional networks.
2. Providing in-country technical advice and capacity building
Building from its broad base of expertise, International IDEA provides direct in-country assistance through recommendations, and the organization of workshops and dialogues for both political leaders, civil society actors and international advisers. Most recently, International IDEA has responded to requests for assistance in Afghanistan, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, Libya, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen. For more information on our trainings, please visit our website.
3. Offering research services and access to comparative informationInternational IDEA has produced an unparalleled range of knowledge resources in the field of constitution-building. These are available for free download . You can also find explanatory videos here.
International IDEA also provides information and analysis regarding ongoing constitutional processes through the online information portal ConstitutionNet.
4. Supporting constitution-building processes in post-conflict setting
As modern-day violent conflicts are mostly intra-state, rather than inter-state, conflict resolution and sustainable peace building often depends upon a new political settlement, for which constitution-building is central. This is why International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Programme places particular focus on processes of post-conflict constitution-building, in particular how constitutional issues relate to the overarching peace process, and constitutional design for divided societies emerging from conflict.