Last week, the IGD hosted pracademics from across the globe at UNSW Sydney to discuss culturally rooted constitution-building in the twenty-first century.

Co-hosted by UNSW IGD and International IDEA, this two-day workshop held up the insights from practitioners, originating from and working in contexts that receive external support to constitution building.

Participants in the workshop grappled with:  

  • The role of culture in constitutional reform, drawing on insights from the ‘turn to culture’ in law and development;  
  • The elements of culturally rooted constitutionalism that could better clarify existing constitutional practices and support general norms of constitutional order; and
  • What the accompaniment of culturally rooted constitutional development in transitional contexts may look like moving forward.

International support is common through the development of new legal constitutions in contexts that have experienced conflict, or other forms of governance transitions. 

However, despite significant international assistance, global development architecture has often struggled to more authentically engage the context receiving assistance.   

Conceptual frameworks and delivery of support that mimic western or global Northern values risk minimising the importance of local contextual history and culture. As a consequence, many new constitutions in the Global South struggle to manage differences, encourage participation, and build legitimacy for constitutional order.  

Engaging in historical and contemporary experiences of colonialism, imperialism, and nationalism is also needed for durable discussion and impact on constitutionalism in these contexts.