UNDP and Ministry of Justice Organizes Fora on Constitution Making

A nation’s constitution articulates principles, rules and processes that define the institutions of the State, their duties and functions, the relationship between such bodies and the citizens as well as the rights and duties of the citizenship itself.

In recognition of this pivotal issue now when Sudan is experiencing a period of transition, UNDP collaborated with the Ministry of Justice to organize a series of fora in Sudan’s 15 states this month on the constitution-making process.

The main objective of the workshops was to ensure a wide popular consultative process on the drafting of the new constitution. Through these consultative workshops, the constitution becomes more likely to better reflect the needs and demands of the nation’s citizens as a whole and, therefore, more likely to gain their respect and support.

During the month of October, five workshops were organized in Red Sea, Kassala, Gadarif, River Nile and Northern states. Sudanese representing a wide spectrum of political and social opinions participated in the workshops, including politicians, members of the judiciary, students, academics, traditional authorities, law enforcement personnel and civil society representatives.

A number of papers were presented during the workshops by Sudanese legal experts. Participants stressed the importance of legal reforms in Sudan (harmonization of national laws with the constitution), the need for separation of powers, federalism, nationality issues, civil services, the rights of minorities, having Sharia law as a source of legislation, and the participation of women in the constitution-making process.

The conference helped draw attention to current thinking on constitution-making processes in countries that have experienced similar situations of transition. Participants were also exposed to the nature of the debates and the variety of processes that go into the making of a new constitution.

The hope in involving the public in such deliberations was to make the decision-makers aware of what the public needs are, by letting them express their opinions on the principles and rules that they value most.

In May 2011, UNDP helped organize a similar Constitution Making Forum that served as a platform for sharing of national and international experiences in constitution-making processes and for drawing lessons for constitutional reform in Sudan. Inputs from wide-ranging national experts were presented during the two-day forum, in addition to special papers on specific country experiences presented by constitutional experts from Kenya, South Africa and Malaysia.


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