How Successful Has the Afghan Constitution Been in Resolving Socio-Political Conflicts? Network of Afghan Constitutionalists Workshop

Risk assessment workshop for constitutional solutions to risks for peace and stability in Heidelberg, 2–6 June 2014

The workshop held during the first week of June was the inaugural meeting of the Network of Afghan Constitutionalists with individuals from across Afghanistan who can support the development of a culture of constitutionalism and resolve constitutional challenges within the country. In order to promote constitutionalism in Afghanistan, the hope is that the Network will be able to inform constitutional debates and also to assist the constitutional amendment process if and when this occurs in Afghanistan.

13 persons, including Afghan judges, civil society activists, legislators, human rights commissioners and government advisors came together in Heidelberg to assess the performance of the Afghan Constitution over the past ten years. As a first step a risk assessment methodology was introduced in order to identify and rank risks for peace and stability in Afghanistan. The focus of analysis was set on three topics: (a) Islam, tradition and modern statehood, (b) democratic legitimacy in terms of elections and parties as well as (c) local and sub-national governance in relation to the Afghan Constitution. In a second step the participants brainstormed how the Afghan Constitution can be used in mitigating the previously identified risks.

Experts of the Max Planck Foundation and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law held presentations on the topics addressed. This technical input was further discussed and contextualised while identifying risk control measures from a constitutional perspective. All participants agreed on the need to further strengthen the role of the Constitution in solving socio-political conflicts in Afghanistan.

The results identified in the workshop will be instrumental in designing future workshops and will guide the further activities of the Network of Afghan Constitutionalists.