Now in the Federalism Library: Constitutional Design for Divided Societies – Five case studies

Students from the University of Toronto recently produced five country case studies on constitutional design. The case studies have been posted in the Forum of Federations online Federalism Library.

Three University of Toronto professors affiliated with the Forum of Federations are co-teaching a course at the university on Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Theory and Cases a course in which they explore with students the theory and practice of constitutional design and reform in a comparative context.

The course is co-taught by professors David Cameron, Sujit Choudhry and Richard Simeon from the University of Toronto’s faculties of law and political science during the 2010 winter semester.

Professor Cameron is a fellow of the Forum. The three professors often lend their services to the Forum as senior subject matter experts in the organization’s development assistance work.

They are currently assisting the Forum in developing a body of literature on federalism and conflict management in connection with a grant the Forum has received from the United States Institute of Peace. Prof. Marie-Joëlle Zahar of the Université de Montréal is also a member of the group.

In the University of Toronto constitutional design course, students are grouped together to work on a country case study and produce a policy report, which could be used by a constitutional commission considering revisions to a country’s constitution. Each policy report is composed of chapters prepared by individual members of a team on specific issues such as:

  • constitution-making processes,
  • executive power-sharing,
  • federalism,
  • causes of conflict,
  • regional dynamics,
  • transitional justice.

A synthetic overview designed to draw overall conclusions and defend a package of constitutional proposals was also collectively authored by the team. While the reports are grounded in academic literature, the primary audience is the policy community.

Five countries were selected for further study: Lebanon, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Students presented their draft reports at an in-class symposium during the semester, where professors and leading practitioners of post-conflict constitutional design served as commentators. The country teams then had an opportunity to revise their reports, taking into account the feedback and suggestions received during the symposium. The reports reflect the final work product submitted by country teams at the end of the semester.

The following are links to the case studies:

The Forum’s development assistance work in emerging- and post-conflict federations can involve the providing of experts to participate and give advice on how to best design a new constitution. The Forum is currently involved in such a process in Nepal.

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