Writing Autobiographies of Nations: a comparative analysis of constitutional reform processes
‘Writing Autobiographies of Nations: A Comparative Analysis of Constitutional Reform Processes’ examines through case studies of Bolivia, Ecuador, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe how constitution-making can be an inclusive, democratic process – engaging both political parties and civic society.
Authors: Albie Sachs, Reginald Austin, Patrick Lumumba, Carlos Böhrt Irahola, Martin van Vliet, Luis Narváez-Ricuarte.
The case studies focus on the key role political parties that play in constitutional reform. Through the cases, we learn important lessons about building multi-stakeholder platforms, about cross party exchange and about the correlation between a nation’s constitution and the condition of its democracy.
Writing in the introductory chapter, Albie Sachs says "constitutions cannot simply be cobbled together. There is not such a thing as a standard, one-size-fits-all, fungible constitution, whether democratic or otherwise, for all countries. By their very nature, constitutions emerge at moments of profound importance in the life of the nations to which they apply".
Sachs quotes Ishmael Mahomed, one time Chief Justice of Namibia, and later Chief Justice of South Africa, who famously said "a Constitution is a "mirror reflecting the national soul," it is not simply a statute which mechanically defines the structures of government and the relations between the government and the governed. It is the identification of the ideals and aspirations of a nation; the articulation of the values bonding its people and disciplining its government. The spirit and the tenor of the Constitution must therefore preside."