Democratic constitutions are an integral part of the transition to democracy – at their most basic level, constitutions set out the rules of the game for the political community that they regulate. In April, Democracy Reporting International and the Myanmar Knowledge Society published a Handbook on Democratic Constitutions and held a series of multi-stakeholder workshops on decentralisation, power-sharing, and municipal governance, which are key topics in the Handbook.
The workshops were held in Mawlamyin, Panthein, Mandalay, and Hpa-An in cooperation with the Knowledge Propagation Society and civil society networks from Mon, Ayeyarwaddy, and Kayin. During the workshops, representatives from civil society organisations, political parties and law students discussed the sharing of legislative powers in decentralised systems, with a specific focus on the competencies and institutional design of the local level of government.
The Handbook on Democratic Constitutions introduces principles and mechanisms for a democratic constitutional reform process, identifies the essential elements of a democratic constitution and sheds light on the different ways these elements are protected in constitutions around the world. Many of the topics in the Handbook are relevant to Myanmar, such as the sequencing between peace negotiations and constitutional reform, the protection of minority rights, and the design of a federal system. This resource is aimed at decision-makers, civil society organisations, students and the interested public. It intends to provide accessible and practical information in their work and discussion on reforming or replacing their constitutions.
The Handbook complements other publications on constitution-building, focusing on real-life challenges of constitutionalism, such as re-emerging authoritarian rule and the challenge of implementing a democratic constitution, all following a unique methodology anchored in international human rights law.
For a copy of the Handbook in Burmese, please contact [email protected] for orders. The English version of the Handbook is forthcoming.