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Peace through Constitutional Amendment? Opportunities and Tendencies

GIGA Focus International Edition (2/2011) by Andreas Mehler

Download: <www.giga-hamburg.de/giga-focus/international>

On 9 July 2011 the validity of Sudan's interim constitution will end and South Sudan will be independent as determined per referendum. For five years, the constitution has contributed to a significant decrease in violence between the government and South Sudanese rebels (while war has been rampaging in the province of Darfur).

The events in South Sudan could be paradigmatic for the fact that opportunities for a policy of peace by means of constitutional amendments are often missed.

- Constitutional amendments offer an extensive range of possibilities for exerting influence on ethnically or otherwise divided societies. However, this potential is rarely put to use.

- The constitutional determination of the form of government, the main rules for decision-making and minority rights should be particularly binding for all former warring parties.

- Constitutional amendments and peace agreements in intra-state conflicts form a complex relationship to one another. Constitutional amendments do not always follow peace agreements. Peace processes and processes of constitutional reform are often long and multipartite.

- Between 2005 and 2010, there were only four countries (Burundi, Iraq, Nepal, Sudan) in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the MENA region with divided societies where a peace agreement and a significant constitutional amendment that affected the root causes of the conflict occurred.

- Nevertheless, other cases in which constitutional amendments are either a) used as prevention against conflicts or b) can be seen as lessons learned from long-lasting tensions (Bolivia, Ecuador, Kenya, Zanzibar/Tanzania) exist.

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idw :: 09.07.2011