Conciliatory Institutions and Constitutional Process in Post Conflict States
37 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2008
There are two important questions in post-conflict constitution making, and at present neither of them has a definitive or uniformly accepted answer. The first relates to the best configuration of institutions to adopt in order to ameliorate the problem of the intergroup conflict. The second concerns the process most apt to produce the best configuration of institutions, whatever it might be. The first question is unanswered because there is a dispute among scholars and practitioners between two opposing views of appropriate institutions to mitigate conflict. Constitutional processes have not generally been geared to yield coherent exemplars of either configuration in a sufficient number of conflict-prone countries to provide a convincing demonstration of the superiority of one approach or the other. The second question is unanswered because in many cases constitutional processes are chosen in a haphazard fashion, without regard to the aptness of the process for the problems to be addressed. Meanwhile, advocates have been arguing for a single, highly structured, uniform process that may be apt for some classes of problems but is not necessarily appropriate for the full range of problems constitution makers confront in coping with divided societies. Hence the questions of what and how are both subject to debate.
This Article takes up both questions. It surveys the main contending prescriptions for constitutional designs to cope with serious ethnic conflict, and it enumerates some of the main objections to each. It then reviews some of the available evidence on the efficacy of the contending prescriptions before turning to the question of adoptability. The Article notes that there are many obstacles to the adoption of a coherent set of political institutions to mitigate conflict, which derive mainly from processes of constitution making. For this reason, the Article evaluates some of the main suggestions in the recent literature on constitutional process and thereafter devotes considerable attention to the difficult question of designing a process for constitution making that is geared to the specific problems faced by constitution designers.
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