Challenging Political Boundaries in Post-Conflict States
William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09 - 342
65 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2016
Date Written: 2007
Within the growing literature on participatory constitution making in post-conflict or transitional societies there has been insufficient analysis of issues related to institutional and procedural design. This literature makes normative and instrumental claims about the benefits of participatory constitution making without analyzing the relationship between institutional and procedural design decisions and the quality and quantity of citizen participation. It is my contention that just as there are a variety of electoral systems that reward and penalize different types of electoral behavior; there are different types of participatory systems and they differ in their capacity to facilitate or frustrate citizen participation. This paper introduces the concepts external and internal participatory systems to assist in analyzing the different types of participatory systems used to draft constitutions in post-conflict states. This binary provides a mechanism for identifying the institutions and procedures that are most effective in achieving the normative and instrumental goals of participatory constitution making. Based on the case study of gender equity advocates in Rwanda, I argue that citizens must engage in sustained collective action to participate effectively in external participatory systems. Only those individuals who mobilize, obtain influential allies, and implement an effective framing strategy are able to make substantive contributions to the constitution making process in such a system. These factors increase the likelihood that comments and recommendations offered by citizens will be reviewed and seriously considered. Rather than opening the floodgates to democratic governance, external participatory systems provide narrow political opportunities that a limited segment of the population is able to utilize effectively.
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