WHY CONSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT?
About five countries every year significantly change their constitution or write a new one. Constitutions provide the basic legal framework for a democracy and the rule of law. They are essential to building peace, and they create inclusive institutions in divided societies. It comes as no surprise, then, that constitutional reform plays a central role in many political transitions. Constitutional revision can create momentum for active engagement in the public and a sense of identification with country.
Major constitutional reforms do not happen often in any country and national expertise is often limited. In this decisive moment, we support officials and civil society to conduct an inclusive constitution making process to underpin a democracy.
Constitutions provide the essential framework of a democratic state, determining the distribution of power, the role of democratic institutions and the inclusiveness of political systems. Democracy Reporting International assesses constitutional arrangements and advocates for democratic standards and principles.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
We consider three elements to be equally important: The process of making a constitution, the actual text, and its implementation. We support all three through analysis, advocacy, and capacity-building. Our activities are chosen flexibly to achieve results. They include:
- Convening constitution-makers and civil society for consultations;
- Leading workshops and trainings with constitution-makers, their staff, civil society, and academics;
- Exploring democratic constitutional design options in one-on-one meetings between DRI experts and constitution-makers;
- Producing briefing papers and reports on constitution-making;
- Contributing to the development of a global methodology and quality standards in the professional practice of constitutional support.
HOW ARE WE DOING IT?
Our methodology for constitutional support is based on two pillars. International law lays out what constitutions should contain at a minimum. We view international law as an outer limit for design; while states are free to choose their own constitutional arrangements, they must remain within these bounds. There are, for example, many models for systems of government, but all should respect the separation and balance of power. In advising on design choices, we provide comparative examples, selected in cooperation with national partners. Our methodology is laid out in numerous publications available in several languages.
Selected publications include:
International Consensus: Essential Elements of Democracy
Report: Strengthening International Law to support Democratic Governance and Genuine Elections
Lawful Restrictions on Civil and Political Rights
Democracy Standards in an Islamic Context
International Standards for the Independence of the Judiciary
Systems of Government: Semi-Presidential Models
Lessons Learned from Constitution-making Processes with Broad Based Public Participation
Preventing Dictatorship: Constitutional Safeguards Against Anti-democratic Consolidations of Power