International IDEA supports constitutional process in South Sudan
South Sudan is currently engaged in a review process of its Transitional Constitution, which came into force on 9 July 2011, its date of independence from Sudan. The National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) was established to review the transitional constitution, conduct a public consultation process, to conduct a nationwide civic education campaign, and to prepare and adopt a new draft constitution to be taken up by a National Constitutional Conference. In this context, International IDEA is supporting the constitution building process of South Sudan, and recently held on 27-30 June in Juba a capacity building workshop titled Constitution Building for Democracy.
The first of a series of ongoing engagements, the workshop used interactive adult-learning methodology to examine comparative constitution building process experiences, to explore the mechanics of the South Sudan process, and to identify challenges in the various phases of constitution building and mitigating strategies.
The workshop brought together members of the National Constitutional Review Commission, the Council of States (upper house of National Legislature of South Sudan), the National Legislative Assembly (lower house), as well as members of civil society groups such as the South Sudan Youth Participatory Agency, the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy, and the Council of Churches.
The organizers were honored to have the workshop addressed by the Hon Minister of Justice, John Luk Jok, His Excellency Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Toby Lanzer, and to have a keynote address delivered by His Excellency the Vice-President of the Republic of South Sudan, Riek Machar.
Facilitators and team
International IDEA’s capacity building programme for constitution building is based on a three –step learning approach that emphasizes normative concepts, the sharing of comparative experiences from other countries, and the application of these concepts and experiences by participants to their own contexts. The workshop was led by a diverse team of facilitators and expert resource persons including Okumba Miruka (Kenya), Salma Mlidi (Tanzania), Biong Deng (South Sudan), Winluck Wahiu (Kenya), Paulos Tesfagiorgis (Eritrea), and Melanie Allen (USA). In addition to the customized course material, participants received copies of the resource ‘A Practical Guide to Constitution Building’ by International IDEA.
Despite many competing claims on their time due to the current high level of activity of the NCRC, participants were highly engaged and active in discussions regarding the critical contentious constitution building issues and how the next phases of the process should unfold. The scope and timing of further targeted engagements to support the NCRC and other stakeholders are under discussion.